Sperrins sporting clubs turn their backs on goldmine money

A number of sports clubs based in and around the Sperrin Mountains have turned down money from Canadian mining company Dalradian Gold amid a change in public opinion over its proposed mine.

The Irish News today reported that Tyrone ladies GAA, whose U-16 girls were sponsored by Dalradian last year, has joined Greencastle GAC in refusing funds from the miners.

But the Sperrin Wheelers cycling club also said on the Save Our Sperrins Facebook page that it would “be able to survive without such masked offers of funding” adding that “Sperrin Wheelers are in no way in support of the Dalradian Gold Ltd and their future plans”.

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Greencastle Athletic Club has also raised concerns over any plant’s impact on an annual charity race it holds.

The company’s Tyrone Fund has donated £126k to various groups in the area since 2010.

But an article by Bloomberg Business last July, said the gold in the Sperrins could be worth £3.3billion to Dalradian.

Patrick Anderson, Dalradian’s chief executive officer was also quoted as saying: “I’m not talking about a single mine. We are working on building a mine camp here.”

Sperrins residents raised concerns with the Mid Ulster Mail two weeks ago over cyanide use at the proposed mine .

Worried local voices will not be heard, the group Save Our Sperrins has also held a series of public meetings - which hundreds have attended - in an attempt to rally support for their fight against the proposed gold mine.

Many in Greencastle fear it will ruin the countryside around their quaint mountain town, affect protected freshwater pearl mussels in nearby Owenkillew River and pollute the water table.

Keen to get locals on board, Dalradian Gold told the Mail it commenced further public consultations on January 22 and in keeping with the “area of outstanding natural beauty” will put up “natural screening” around the mine and put waste rock back into the ground.

“The company has invested £50 million to date in the project,” a spokesperson said. “It employs 55 people directly, of which 54% are from County Tyrone. We employ approximately another 60 through our contractors.

“Many of our suppliers and contractors are local as well so our project has already made a substantial contribution to the local economy. Invest NI has invested £326,000 in the project for jobs and associated training in our current stage of works.

“Between March and April 2015 Dalradian conducted a door to door survey in the Gortin and Greencastle area, a total of 608 houses were surveyed by questionnaire. The results showed that 93% of the respondents (91.48% of which were local residents) are in favour of or neutral about the project in their area.”