Ireland's first commercial gold mine could be worth more than €150m, it has been claimed.
Exploration company Conroy Gold yesterday reported that it has found further evidence of high grade gold at its drilling site in Clontibret in Co Monaghan.
The firm said that results from its initial drilling uncovered grades of up to 25.29 grams per tonne. Conroy Gold's chairman, Professor Richard Conroy, said it was a "fantastic result" and added that the mine could yield over €150m worth of gold over its lifetime.
"We will probably be able to mine gold at around $600 or so an ounce. If the price of gold stays at around $1,100 or so an ounce we will make quite a nice profit out of it," Prof Conroy said.
"There are probably about 600,000 ounces of gold so it is quite a substantial site."
Prof Conroy said that costs such as the transport of the material would be kept relatively low due to Monaghan's decent infrastructure.
He said that the company plans to develop the mine in three stages. Phase one will consist of a starter pit, phase two will see the pit extended and phase three will result in the pit going deeper underground.
Mr Conroy said that the company will spend around €30m developing gold mining at the site, and expects to get the full costs back in the first two years of production from the phase one site.
"What we will be mining in the first instance will be about 20pc of our targets, so there would still be 80pc left," he said.
"We would hope to be making something in the order of perhaps €150m [in total], we would hope for even a small bit more depending on the price,."
Prof Conroy said that the firm is now looking for a joint partnership with a "major company" to help develop the site.
He said that although the company is not currently in formal discussions with any major company's with a view to forming a partnership, he added that if the money were available "we would hope to start developing the site in around two and a half to three years".
Mining could last for five years and between 100 and 150 jobs are likely to be created.
Gold found in the Republic is officially owned by the State and extracted under licence.
In practice that means a royalty payment of typically 2pc to 3pc of the value of extracted gold is paid over to taxpayers, in addition mining companies pay corporate tax at a higher than normal 25pc.