A clear commitment to clean water
The Curraghinalt exploration infrastructure site became active in 2014. From the start, in agreement with statutory bodies, we established a stringent environmental protection framework to ensure we maintain – and enhance, where possible – the integrity of the local environment.
Currently, water from the exploration site is released under a water discharge consent from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA), which governs flow and 16 different aspects of water quality, including sediment and pH balance. The consent specifies a maximum sediment content of 50mg per litre; the sediment content in the water we discharge is typically less than 10mg per litre.
We can achieve this because of our on-site, multi-stage water purification system, which includes storage/settlement tanks and a clarifier. The system continuously monitors sediment levels prior to discharge and will automatically shut down any discharge if the maximum levels are approached.
The Owenkillew River near our site is designated as a Special Area of Conservation, which makes water discharge management a key priority. The river contains several protected species including the freshwater pearl mussel, which is very responsive to sediment levels.
The economic benefits of gold mining
For communities located near gold deposits, independent research, using examples from around the world, shows that mining brings investment, employment, training and local spending. Studies confirm that, on average around 90% of the employees working at gold mines are drawn from local communities; in mines operating in Canada and the United States, developed economies similar to Northern Ireland, that figure jumps to more than 95%. Hiring as many workers as possible from the local area concentrates the benefits of the project in the communities closest to the mine and also reduces employee turnover rates.
Experience demonstrates that the benefits of mining also extend well beyond the mine site. In established economies, for every job at the mine, twice as many people are employed indirectly –working for suppliers and enterprises that support the mine. So, it’s not surprising that 70% of the total expenditures by gold mining companies go toward payments to suppliers, contractors and employees.
In addition to jobs, mines provide their employees with training and skills they can use for a lifetime, usually across a range of industries.
At the majority of mines in developed economies, employee training is ongoing throughout the year and represents a substantial investment by the mine operators. For our proposed mine in County Tyrone, the annual training expenditure will be in the range of £1.5 million. During the first three years, we will spend more than £6 million.