The company at the heart of controversial plans to mine for gold in the Sperrin Mountains has announced further consultations with the community before submitting its planning application.
Dalradian Gold, which estimates the presence of around £4billion worth of gold in the region, says it has already spoken with over 500 people about the plans.
But to this day, it is still met with resistance in the area in the form of the group Save Our Sperrins, which insists that a gold mine in Greencastle would affect the environment, plants and animals and the quality of life for people who live there.
Dalradian on the other hand says the “development of the Curraghinalt gold deposit” will create over 400 well paid jobs, benefit the local economy, and that the plant - of which it has now released an artist’s impression - will minimise effects on the environment and wildlife.
It currently employs 50 people on the project, 61 per cent of whom it says are from Tyrone and 90% of whom, now live there.
And to date, the company says it has invested £56m in the area, but if it is granted permission to mine for gold it stands to make billions - a small percentage (around 5%) of which will go back to the tax payer through the Crown Estate Commission.
Beyond direct investment in the project, Dalradian said it is also working in partnership with the local community on a range of programmes, and now plans to take groups on tours down the proposed mine.
It has also planned two events at Rouskey Community Centre on October 22 (10am-4pm) and October 26 (4pm-9pm).
In 2015, Dalradian launched The Tyrone Fund, which has provided funding of £220,000 to date for projects in health, sport, the environment and education - but many local groups have now turned their backs on this money.
The company has also been collaborating with South West College on how to provide for future training needs, including arranging and funding a visit by a delegation from a Canadian mining college to discuss curricula and programmes to support mining.
In support of 19 of the jobs Dalradian said it would create, InvestNI “offered Dalradian Resources £326,817”.
It also recently emerged that the PSNI incurred a security bill of over £400k in relation to the mine site over the last year, as explosives are kept on site.
When the Mail asked a Dalradian spokesperson whether they thought the company should be paying these security costs, they said it was the PSNI who insisted they be there.
The police, however, told the Irish News that “cost recovery is ongoing and is currently the subject of ongoing negotiations”.
James Orr, Friends of the Earth director, added at the time: “What we see by this type of development is that the community has been left to pay the price.
“These companies are not wealth creators, but wealth extractors and the cost is very high. It’s not just the cost of policing, but the destruction of landscapes and the fracturing of communities.”
In relation to the consultations, he told the Mail: “We welcome any pre application consultation by a developer - particularly for cyanide mining of gold - one of the most controversial developments ever to happen in Northern Ireland. “Ultimately, it is up to the authorities to ensure that this is genuine and transparent consultation and not a paper exercise.”
The company said it has increased the number of tours offered to better inform people of the environmental management of the site, and that it has done a leaflet drop of 1,600.
Dalradian’s Managing Director, Brian Kelly, said: “Dalradian has been actively engaging with the local communities since 2009, when we began work on the project. In the past eight months alone we have consulted with over 500 people at community meetings, around kitchen tables and in farmyards.
“We have listened to local residents and made improvements to the plans for the mine based on the feedback received.
“The proposed mine has the potential to provide employment for at least a generation and to provide other direct benefits to the local communities, through supply chain, education and training opportunities.”