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KILL THE DRILL; Connemara locals slam Canadian firm that is planning to extract [euro]3bn of rare mineral in countryside.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE BY SAOIRSE MCGARRIGLE

A COMPANY has hit the jackpot by unearthing vast amounts of a rare mineral worth more than [euro]3billion in the Irish countryside.

But residents in Connemara have slammed plans to strip the loot claiming the Government is "selling the State's silver".

And the discovery of the pot of gold by a Canadian mining firm has been dubbed by some as the "next Shell To Sea" scandal.

Galway senator Trevor O Clochartaigh, who lives in the Gaeltacht area, revealed local concerns.

He told the Irish Daily Mirror: "They were initially drilling test holes and they are now assessing the reports from these trials to determine the best way to proceed.

"They will then apply for a licence to extract the minerals and it looks likely to happen.

"There are very serious concerns around this and the impact it will have on the area and the people who live here."

Molybdenum copper is used to harden steel and to instil heat and cold resistance into other materials.

The Department of Energy and Natural Resources granted a licence to MOAG Copper Gold Resources Inc to explore an area with a 45km radius.

They found 100 million tons of raw material and are now trying to put the wheels in motion to begin extracting it.

Ann Casey, 70, said it was "hell on earth" while the test drilling was going on just 80 metres from her home at Mace, near Carna.

She added: "I have COPD and I am really scared of the pollution.

"I couldn't walk up and down the road the whole time they were there drilling.

"I just want to be able to live here in peace. When they are here the noise from the machines is just deafening. It's unbearable. "And the lorries going up and down destroyed the tiny roads here."

The Toronto-based company says on its website: "The results of that program were extremely encouraging. These results suggest the Mace prospect has the potential to host an economically viable deposit, subject to environmental, planning and regulatory approvals."

But Ann hopes they are stopped in their tracks.

She claimed: "I was praying that they'd never come back.

"We don't want this pollution to destroy the place. "There used to be wildlife on the lake and they scared them all away. They were washing their machinery in the lake so there was chemicals going into the water."

MOAG also said on its website that it "benefits from strong government support".

But Mr O Clochartaigh was highly critical of the department's approach and claimed the project is financially futile.

He added: "The State only gets 25% of the royalties, but the State must also compensate the company for all costs incurred while carrying out the tests. We don't even know how much it cost to carry out these tests, it could have run into millions and all of that will have to be repaid to the company.

"In other words, this will eat into the State's profits hugely.

"The Government should be pushing for a lot more out of any potential deal on these natural resources.

"The tax breaks we are offering them undoes any good it could bring to the economy.

"We are selling off the State's silver." The senator said everyone's main concern is the impact the work will have on the landscape.

He added: "It will of course create jobs and it is an unemployment blackspot, but we do have to consider the impact this will have on the environment, now and into the future. "There's a lot more questions than answers here.

"What effect will this have on the water? Will chemicals get into the water? "There certainly needs to be a lot more public consultation."

news@irishmirror.ie

CAPTION(S):

CONCERN Senator Trevor O Clochartaigh

valuable Sample of molybdenum copper

PROTEST Shell To Sea demo at Bellanaboy, Co Mayo

Mace near Carna in Connemara remote

Copper mine in Siirt city, Turkey excavation
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 8, 2017
Words:662
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