Friday 15 December 2017

Work on Irish gold mine on hold due to lack of anti-terrorism cover

Gold nuggets
Gold nuggets
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Galantas Gold Corporation has announced that its plans to develop the Omagh gold mine development are on hold.

The company made the decision after the PSNI confirmed that it will not provide anti-terrorism cover in regard to blasting operations required for mine development at the Omagh Gold Mine.

The PSNI requires that it supervises transportation and use of certain rock breaking materials and explosives at the Omagh Gold Mine. This is due to the potential terrorist use of those materials and is a requirement of PSNI specific to Northern Ireland.

The PSNI provide anti-terrorist cover for the transportation and use of blasting materials throughout Northern Ireland.

Galantas has been told that, due to resource constraints and competing priorities, the PSNI is currently only prepared to provide anti-terrorism cover for a maximum of a two hour period, two days per week.

The PSNI would also require a cost recovery agreement.

This is insufficient to sustain the development or operation of the Omagh Gold Mine, Galantas said.

Galantas also said that it disagreed with the principle of costs recovery for anti-terrorism policing but advised the PSNI that it was prepared to enter into a costs recovery agreement for a two hour period, five days per week, without prejudice to its legal remedies in that respect.

The PSNI has now refused to provide the cover, citing competing priorities.

Galantas has sought to discuss the issue at the highest levels of command in PSNI and the Northern Ireland Office but engagement has so far been declined.

The company alleges that it is being discriminated against by the PSNI as it said it has been advised that others have recently been provided in excess of this amount of anti-terrorism cover and without a cost recovery agreement.

Galantas said that it has been given no alternative other than to pursue its legal options, which may include seeking substantial compensation for the costs of delays.

“The PSNI’s decision is clearly a blow to any proposed mine development in Northern Ireland and negatively affects the livelihoods of our employees and their families”, Roland Phelps, president & ceo of Galantas Gold Corporation said.

“A cost benefit analysis of the PSNI providing the required anti-terrorism cover required by the PSNI is hugely to the state’s benefit, not that this is any reason to allow a potential terrorist threat to interfere with any citizen’s lawful rights or business”, he said.

In March the company announced that development has commenced on the Omagh gold property in county Tyrone. It was expected that ore zones were likely to be reached within 6 months.

Read more: €1bn silver mining company takes stake in fledgling Dublin-based Group Eleven Resources

It was expected that the gold mine development would create 130 jobs plus others in service industries associated with the development.

In response to questions from Independent.ie Chief Superintendent Kevin Dunwoody of the PSNI said:There are many competing demands for the resources that PSNI commanders have at their disposal. They must prioritise those demands in a way that maximises the safety of the public and their officers and works to counter threats, to mitigate risk and to alleviate harm”.

He went on to say that “working with others to support their efforts for the development of enterprise and the economy is important to the PSNI. It is however reasonable to expect a commercial venture to contribute all or part of the policing costs where it is legitimate and proportionate to do so,” he said.

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