Dalradian In Depth: Preserving Our Environment

The Curraghinalt Mine will be designed, built and operated using the latest technology and in accordance with global best practices and the most stringent regulatory standards.

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We will operate in a region that includes an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (“AONB”), an Area of Special Scientific Interest (“ASSI”) and a Special Area of Conservation (“SAC”). Our activities will be subject to frequent inspections and the most stringent and rigorous regulatory standards.

That’s how it should be.

It is our responsibility to be careful stewards of local plant and animal life and to protect the environment. We’ve already invested in a programme to protect the Owenkillew River and the freshwater pearl mussels it supports. Our efforts include working with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Owenkillew Development Association on awareness campaigns and installation of fencing to reduce sheep and cattle crossings as well as minimizing silt build-up in the Owenkillew River and its tributaries. Read more about the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.

Working to Set a New Standard

As part of our preparation, we conducted an extensive environmental assessment and, in November 2017, we submitted a comprehensive Environmental Statement to the DfI as part of our Planning Application to build an underground mine. The Statement considers landscape and visual, noise, water, air quality and public health, among other topics.

When the proposed mine is in operation, we will:

  • Monitor levels of noise, dust and vibration on a regular basis, as we do at our current exploration site.
  • Use the dry stack tailings (“DST”) approach, instead of a tailings dam or pond. Dry stack tailings or filtered tailings are tailings that have had most (>80%) of the water removed. DST is widely recognized as the most stable, sustainable method for managing mine tailings and allows rehabilitation to take place during operations. Read more about dry stack tailings, as it relates to building a safe and environmentally responsible mine.
  • Recycle as much water on site as possible.
  • Test and treat all mine and process water at our purpose-built waste water treatment plant, before it leaves our site. Read more about our commitment to clean water.
  • Ensure that the concentration of cyanide at the end of the gold extraction process is below the EU limits. Material that comes into contact with cyanide will not be left on the surface – it will be detoxified and returned underground.

Our Planning Application includes a closure plan, which sets out how the underground mine will be secured, buildings removed and planting completed. The water treatment facility will continue to operate post closure. Once the authorities have assessed that water standards have been met, the facility will be removed and replaced with a less intrusive (passive) water treatment system that uses natural processes. Water quality will continue to be monitored for at least five years. We will also provide a financial guarantee to cover the costs of closing the mine prior to beginning operations.Read more about our plans for rehabilitation of the site.

Our goal is to ensure that, after operations, our physical legacy will be a green hillside covered with local grasses, bushes and trees.

Further details on expected environmental impacts, monitoring and mitigation measures are included in our full Planning Application.

More stability. Less water.
Rather than a tailings dam or pond, Dalradian will employ the Dry Stack Tailings method. The current best-class approach for managing mine tailings, the method is more stable and uses significantly less water.
Protecting Water
We have a water management strategy to recycle as much water on site as possible. All remaining mine contact water will be collected and treated to agreed water quality criteria in our state-of-the-art water treatment plant before it leaves our site.  Key water quality parameters will be continuously monitored prior to discharge.
Levels of dust, noise and vibration at our site will be continually monitored by both Dalradian and government regulators.
World Class Standards
We will meet or exceed the stringent environmental regulations in Northern Ireland. We engaged early with the DoE (now DfI) and NIEA to discuss our plans and these meetings are ongoing.
Protecting Rivers
We monitor the river network within a 30km2 area and have completed several projects to protect both local rivers and native aquatic plants and animals, including the endangered freshwater pearl mussel.
Cyanide Safety
There is more cyanide in decaffeinated coffee than there will be in the detoxified ore from our mine. After detoxification, all material that has been exposed to cyanide will be returned underground on site. Dalradian has signed the International Cyanide Management Code – among other things, it means extra inspections, beyond what is legally required.

Cyanide Management

We are committed to the International Cyanide Management Code (“ICMC”).

Cyanide, which can be naturally occurring or human-made, is used in a range of industrial processes such as plastics and drug manufacturing. It is one of the most highly regulated substances in the world. Cyanide has been used in gold extraction for more than 100 years and is considered the best available technology for that use. At Curraghinalt, it will be stored, used, controlled and managed in a way that protects employees, the environment and the public.

The proposed approach to cyanide management (detailed in our Planning Application) includes methods to minimise the use of cyanide, as well as a cyanide detoxification process that will be applied before any material leaves the processing plant. Cyanide use will be contained within the processing plant.

Gold-bearing material will be separated from mined ore by the physical processes of crushing, grinding and flotation before chemical treatment, which will significantly reduce the use of cyanide (this is because only a portion of the extracted ore (10-15%) comes into contact with cyanide in the process tanks, as opposed to 100% of the ore). Only material which has not come into contact with cyanide will be placed on the surface. Material that has come into contact with cyanide will be detoxified before it leaves the processing plant. Cyanide detoxification reduces the concentration of cyanide to less than the levels you would find in decaffeinated coffee.

After detoxification, the cleansed material will be returned underground as backfill after it is mixed with dry stack tailings and cement to solidify and encapsulate the material