Galantas Gold Corporation, through its Northern Ireland and UK registered company subsidiaries, are actively engaged in gold mining in the province and has an exclusive licence to gold, silver and base metals in Northern Ireland, to the west of Omagh, County Tyrone plus additional licenses in the Republic Of Ireland.
Mining is permitted by planning consent at the Cavanacaw Mine. Previously using open-pit methods, management intends to progress to developing an underground mine to extract deeper ore.
All mining creates some environmental impact, however, management is committed to removing or reducing that impact as completely as possible.
Processing of ore at the mine takes place without the use of Mercury or Cyanide. A metals concentrate is produced that contains gold,silver and lead minerals from the ore. The concentrate is produced by a non-toxic method called froth flotation. Froth flotation relies on the surface properties of the metallic compounds present to preferentially adhere to air bubbles. It is a long established, safe and simple technology. The metals concentrate is shipped to a well-regulated smelter via Belfast port.
The small amount of frothing agents used are bio-degradeable and have no impact on mine water.
CLEAN AIR & WATER
Water leaving the mine is routinely monitored by regulating agencies and an outside environmental monitoring contractor to the mine. The water passes through settlement ponds to ensure it is clear of suspended solids. Samples are tested for a wide range of criteria and pass metals drinking water standards. Waters leaving the mine site are routinely of far better quality and contain less metals and sediment than neighboring streams. When mine water enters local streams this leads to improvement in water quality.
Aside from routine monitoring of mine water, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has carried out three intensive studies of mine water. They were designed as a compliance check applying to groundwaters and surface waters from the mine site. The checks confirmed complete compliance. Reports were published in September 2011 and June 2013. Since those studies, in July 2014 and July 2015, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency confirmed that 2013 and 2014 were also years of satisfactory compliance with its strict regulatory standards for out-flow waters. The Company has also received a report from Northern Ireland Environment Agency of a detailed monitoring study carried out in the last quarter of 2017. In summary, the report concluded, as the Company expected, that there is no evidence that activities at the mine site are having a detrimental effect on the chemical quality of the groundwater around the site or of the Kerr Burn.
Monitoring continues and compliance is confirmed by that monitoring.
Dust levels are routinely monitored to ensure guidelines are observed and are at very low levels. As in all modern open pit mines, the control of dust is an important part of operations. The climate of the location, with rainfall of 1600-1800mm per year means that artificial watering is only occasionally required.
CLEAN TAILING & SAFE STORAGE
Processed tailing sands are sampled daily for sulphur content. The clean tailings sands (like the un-mineralised country rock) are free from acid generation due to their low sulphur content and natural carbonate content. The tailings can be safely recycled in artificial soils and have a variety of other uses. Permanent storage is available in secure, bunded cells. The tailings meet the definition of being Inert Waste, as such is defined in the Commission Decision 2009/359/EC of 30th April 2009, Article 1, implementing Article 22(1)(f) of Directive 2006/21/EC, although do have potential secondary uses.
Water is stored and settled separately from the tailings sand, as far as is practicable. This reduces the potential loss of sand in the unlikely event of a bund failure. Storage in this way is modern best practice within the industry.
Landscaped noise protection berms have been constructed at strategic locations on the site boundary to protect neighboring residents from the noise of the mine machinery. Continuous noise level monitoring takes place and OML observes strict noise maximum levels. Additionally, the open pit is restricted in operating hours and observes a "Quiet Sundays' policy.
The mine has invested in special modifications to standard equipment to reduce the impact of heavy equipment noise.
All mines cause temporary visual impact to some degree. Galantas seeks to minimise that temporary impact as far as practicable. Natural landforms and landscaping restricts open views of the site to one main direction. Some 27, 500 trees have been planted on site boundaries and at strategic locations. Stockpiles have been covered with soil and vegetated - this is a temporary measure. The site will be permanently restored and carried out as far as possible on an ongoing basis. The open pit has been partially back filled. Some of the surplus rock (produced by natural swell when the rock is broken) has been integrated into the local aggregates industry.
The restoration work is carried out according to an approved restoration plan'. The blueprint for restoration has been produced with extensive local consultation. To minimise impact, the restoration plan, with planning consent conditions, manages operating hours, number of vehicles, road improvements and other matters. The completion of the plan will restore the site to upland grassland with woodland and wetland.
The plan was based upon a full Environmental Impact Assessment. The planning permit relating to underground mining and surface restoration has been granted and was confirmed by Judicial Review in Belfast High Court and later in the Court Of Appeal.
Operating mines can become important habitat for native species. Some areas of the mine site have intentionally been left to become wild for relatively long periods of time, creating a local haven for wildlife. A range of native species of trees have been planted. Wetland areas have been established on the fringes of mine settlement ponds. Native bulrushes, reeds and sedge are becoming naturally established. Areas seeded for restoration (even on a temporary basis) have been set with special mixtures designed for field margins, encouraging insects and birds.
Particularly pleasing to note are the presence of some common varieties of orchids that have established on restored land. Many species become habituated to mining activities and co-exist alongside. Examples are a colony of 50 pairs of sand martins which established themselves adjacent to an exploration drilling site near the mill, making use of a recently cut sandy bank, nesting swallows in the processing plant and workshop, hares, deer, foxes and visits by a pair of peregrine falcons. Mine Management ensure that the nest sites are protected to the maximum extent. Bats patrol the stockpile areas at night, making use of upswelling currents of air that lift insects.
No chemicals are used to manage vegetation on the mine's land.
The company continues to independently monitor the habitats of native species on its land and continues to restore land affected by its activities to ensure environmental impact is minimised.
Galantas operates an equal opportunity, non-discriminatory employment policy and complies with Northern Ireland / UK Health and Safety requirements, Labour Regulations and employment legislation.
The Company has been informed that its gold production has one of the lowest carbon footprints of gold mining producers. This is due to the comparatively high grade (gold content) of the ore and the simplicity of processing. The Company has examined and implemented various changes to reduce its energy requirement.
The neighboring area is very suitable for the introduction of medium scale wind turbine power generation to provide electricity for the processing plant. The Company understands that there is a current moratorium on planning applications for such units locally, although the locality is amongst the most reliable for wind energy in Western Europe. Solar generation is also a possible future opportunity on the site, subject to the relevant approvals.
Galantas subsidiaries make a very positive impact on local economy. The operations recently employed about 50 people. Once permission for underground mining activity is granted, this number is likely to increase to over 100. The subsidiaries source as much labour, materials and contract services as it can locally; utilising services from hundreds of local companies.
The direct benefits are the jobs, wages, turnover & taxes associated with operation. Indirect benefits are generated through, for example demand on suppliers. The economic activity as a whole has induced benefits that reflect on various items in the wider economy (eg housing, social, retail etc). Webb Advisory, specialist consultants in this field have estimated (May 2017) a Gross Value Added (the total of all classes of economic benefit) as approximately £14m per annum to the wider Northern Ireland economy, with the majority concentrated within the Omagh area and its hinterland. The total impact on jobs is estimated as 174 (direct, indirect and induced).
Galantas recognises that its operations will have impact locally and tries to ameliorate or minimise negative aspects as much as it can. A Local Mine Advisory Committee has been proposed to provide early guidance and feed-back on operating changes or local difficulties regarding the mine. There are vacancies on the committee and the company invites applications from those living close to the operations.