Saturday 17 August 2019

'Irreversible damage' - Locals fear potential Connemara gold mine would 'devastate the environment and people's health'

'Rugged Connemara diamond': Clifden camping
'Rugged Connemara diamond': Clifden camping

Gabija Gataveckaite

An environmental group in Connemara has said that a potential mine in the area would cause “irreversible damage”.

A Canadian mining company has applied for a prospecting license in Connemara, which would allow exploration for the presence of valuable minerals in the area.

If minerals of interest are found, MOAG would have the opportunity to set up a mine in Roundstone, Ballyconneely or Ballynahinch areas.

A local environmental group speculates that the potential mine would not only cause extensive harm to the environment but provide only a couple of jobs locally.

“There’s been a complete lack of public consultation,” said Terri Conroy, chairperson of ‘Protect Connemara - Keeping Roundstone Bog/Balllyconneely Free from Mining’ group.

“Many residents rely on tourism, it’s their livelihood.

“People won’t come to an area with lots of mining and the government has spent a lot of money promoting tourism, our money. It’ll be money down the drain,” she added.

Ms Conroy said that there was little potential for employment.

“Even if there was a thousand jobs, according to the EU Habitats Directive, only if the mine contributed to the benefit of humanity would it go through.

“The mine would only be very short term, 15 or 20 years long and the damage is irreversible,” she said.

She explained that one of the reasons the group is opposing the prospecting application is that if it is granted, and valuable minerals are found, the planning permission for a mine will very likely be granted also.

“It would be a terrible devastation and destruction to the environment and our health.”

Environmental organisation An Taisce has also joined the fight against the granting of the prospecting license.

“We’re absolutely delighted An Taisce is on board,” Ms Conroy added.

“The application for the license has lacked so much process- we don’t even know which metals they’ll be looking for.”

It is speculated that the company will seek other minerals during the exploration process, which indicate that the presence of gold or silver is likely.

“If they find gold, that’s the dirtiest kind of mining- we’re a rural area, we don’t want any kind of mining here,” she added.

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