An extended search for gold in Co Tyrone will mean more than 50 new jobs, it was claimed on Wednesday.
Canadian-based company Dalradian Resources has been given planning permission to triple the length of a 2,300ft underground tunnel outside the village of Gortin, near Omagh.
The exploration work will last three years and bulk samples of mineralised rock will be removed to confirm the grade, tonnage and continuity of the mineralised veins of rock already detected.
There were 92 letters and three petitions in support of the application with 39 letters objecting to the proposal, which has the backing of Omagh District Council, according to the Department of Environment.
Minister Mark H Durkan said more than 50 jobs would be created, as well as wider benefits for the local economy.
But he also insisted that environmental protection would be of paramount importance.
He said: “The company will be operating within very strict compliance parameters. This combination will help achieve my vision of creating a stronger economy, a better environment.”