The local community have “justified concerns” about prospecting activities in the Sperrins and the future intentions of the companies involved, Mid Ulster SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said after leading a cross-party delegation to meet the Department for Economy.
Mr McGlone said he believed many in the community would be sceptical about assurances from the department that the activity would be strictly regulated.
Following the meeting he said, “Over the last number of months, along with SDLP colleagues, I have attended a community meetings regarding prospecting in the Sperrins. During these meetings, people from the local community have expressed a number of concerns. These ranged from environmental issues, health concerns and the impact that this will have on the general wellbeing of the community.
“Subsequently, I arranged a meeting with the Department, NIEA and the Geological Survey NI to highlight these concerns. It is absolutely essential that people are well informed and that is why I invited other parties to attend the meeting.
“During the meeting I made representations on behalf of the community regarding their concerns about the impact on the environment, and the health and well-being of local residents, from the activities of the international companies involved in prospecting in the area.
“Officials from the agencies at the meeting have committed to ensuring that any activity will be strictly regulated and assurances sought about the impact on the community before any follow-up work is authorised.”
Sinn Féin MLA Ian Milne said his party remains opposed to the use of cyanide in mining and any planning application should be subject to a public inquiry.
“Sinn Féin’s position on gold mining and processing is very clear and was set out in motion 68 at the party’s Ard Fheis in 2017,” he said. “We are opposed to the use of cyanide in mining due to its environmental and health implications.”
He said they recognised the environmental damage caused by precious metals mining and the extraction of non-renewable natural resources.