Groups join in campaign to 'Save Our Sperrins'

Slieve Gallion
Slieve Gallion

Campaigners opposed to mineral mining in Slieve Gallion are holding two public meetings to keep people in Mid Ulster up-to-date with developments.

Meetings have been arranged for Desertmartin and Draperstown over the next few weeks and organisers are encouraging locals to attend.

Australian mining company, Walkabout Resources, says it is arranging to meet with councillors and local people in the near future to explain their plans in detail.

Next week’s meetings have been organised by Fact Finding Slieve Gallion - formed just a few weeks ago - and Save Our Sperrins groups.

Save Our Sperrins has been to the fore in opposing mining in the Greencastle area of County Tyrone in recent years.

A spokesperson for Fact Finding Slieve Gallion told the Mail yesterday that it was a Province-wide issue which could impact future generations.

“We are small group of people from the Desertmartin, Moneymore and Draperstown areas,” he said.

“What we heard at those meetings drove us to start looking into the issue of this further and this has us really afraid of what could potentially lay ahead should this get going.

“The implications for the health of the people of this area are enormous, not to mention the devastation to the countryside and effect it will have on housing prices.

“We really at this point need to make the people aware as the vast majority have no idea what is going on just yet judging by the feedback we have been getting during a leaflet drop that we carried out around houses in the area over the past weekend.”

He added that they are hoping for a good turnout at the two meetings on August 13 and 16, and following that there “will be further groups arising”.

A low-flying helicopter carrying out a geological survey over Slieve Gallion initially raised concern in the local community.

Walkabout Resources, which has mines in Africa, revealed on their website that they had discovered cobalt-cooper in Slieve Gallion area while prospecting for gold.

The company has signed a joint venture agreement with Koza UK, which has a mineral prospecting licence for a location about 12 miles from Curraghinalt, where Canadian company Dalradian is planning to develop a gold mine.

Walkabout Resources were not available yesterday for immediate comment.

However, its Executive chairman, Mr Benson, told the Mail in June that they were an open company and would welcome and encourage views from local

people.

And he stressed that their exploration was still at a “very early stage”, and they were still to determine if it was economically viable for them to develop.

This, however, has been disputed by the spokesperson for Fact-Finding Slieve Gallion who claimed the company is “ready for a focused drilling campaign”.

He added: “This is why it is important that people turn up at one of these meetings and find out how we can confront this challenge.”