The explosives for the mine arrived with a police escort.
An hour after more than 30 blasts shook the Curraghinalt mine in Northern Ireland, dust still hung in the air. Through the haze, among the collapsed rock, were glints of gold. That’s the prize for Canada’s Dalradian Resources Inc. and a potential boost for one of the U.K.’s poorest regions.
“There is wealth here,” Patrick Anderson, Dalradian’s 47-year-old chief executive officer, said in the region’s capital of Belfast, where his ancestors worked in nearby shipyards that produced the Titanic in 1911. “I’m not talking about a single mine. We are working on building a mine camp here.”
Anderson, who co-founded a company that developed an Ecuador gold mine and sold it to Kinross Gold Corp. in 2008 for C$1.2 billion ($940 million), plans to raise $250 million for Curraghinalt. He says the mine can produce at least 2.9 million ounces of gold over 18 years more profitably than bigger deposits elsewhere.
So far, developing gold reserves in Northern Ireland has been a challenge. As early as 1652, the metal turned up in the gravel of the Moyola river, near Curraghinalt, a study commissioned by Toronto-based Dalradian found. Plans for alluvial mining in the 1930s came to little, and a unit of Rio Tinto Group left the site undeveloped after winning an exploration license in 1971.
Investment in Northern Ireland was curbed by three decades of political violence, culminating in a bombing in 1998 that killed 29 in Omagh town, 12 miles from Curraghinalt. At the prospect, successive owners through the 1980s and 1990s took samples and dug tunnels before passing the project on. Seventeen years after the Good Friday peace accord that ended most of the violence, the work is finally accelerating.
“There is wealth here. I’m not talking about a single mine. We are working on building a mine camp here”
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