Friday 20 September 2019

Geoscience sector tops €1bn milestone

Minister of State for Natural Resources Seán Canney
Minister of State for Natural Resources Seán Canney

Fearghal O'Connor

Ireland's growing geoscience sector has hit a milestone by topping the €1bn turnover mark, a new industry survey shows.

The sector, which revolves around a cluster of specialised mining, quarrying, environmental and other infrastructure companies, created more than 250 jobs in the past year, according to the survey of 38 businesses by industry group Geoscience Ireland.

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Combined turnover rose to €1.02bn, driven by increased international business.

The survey showed that small and medium-sized companies in the sector generated almost €300m, with 35.7pc of total turnover derived from overseas activity.

Minister of State for Natural Resources Seán Canney welcomed the growth in the highly technical sector and said his department would "continue to support the Geoscience Ireland business cluster in winning business overseas".

Geoscience Ireland, which has helped develop the cluster of companies, was formed in 2012 and is supported by Geological Survey Ireland and Enterprise Ireland.

More than 1,300 new jobs have been created by Geoscience Ireland member companies since it was launched.

Sean Finlay, director of Geoscience Ireland, said that although mining-focused firms such as Shannon-based drill bit manufacturer Mincon, Lisheen Mining Services and Africa-focused PW Mining International made up important parts of the sector, it was "about far more than mining and quarrying".

"Companies such as Nicholas O'Dwyer consulting engineers highlight that the role of this sector in the Irish economy is very important, because geoscience is at the foundation of everything, whether it's roads, water, gas pipelines, wind farms. If the geoscience is wrong, the projects will be compromised."

He said Brexit was a concern for the sector because 20 of the 38 firms involved in the industry here were also very active in the UK.

"The domestic economy is strong but the companies in this sector do have to keep a focus on overseas work," said Finlay. "Inevitably, there'll be some kind of a slowdown in the national economy and to be diversified into different markets is just good strategy.

"And that's really the essence of what we're trying to do in Geoscience Ireland: trying to identify opportunities for Irish companies to diversify and to get into different markets, to ensure to spread their bets."

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