CANADIAN mining company Dalradian has replied following a row over a Mid-Ulster Council backed awards ceremony which celebrates businesses in the district.
The controversy surrounding the Mid-Ulster Business Excellence Awards, organised by the Mid-Ulster Mail, stems from their decision to accept sponsorship from the mining firm.
The ceremony, which is due to take place this month, aims to recognise the talent, entrepreneurship and excellence that exists across the full range of business and commerce in the Mid-Ulster area, however the lead up to this year’s event has been overshadowed by complaints over the contentious sponsors.
Protests have been ongoing since Dalradian Gold submitted plans to open a major gold mine in the Sperrin Mountains in 2017.
It came after several years of exploratory work by the Canadian firm in the Greencastle area. Dalradian claimed it could tap into £3bn in gold and provide a £750m boost to the NI economy, providing 350 jobs for the local area. However, a record number of over 10,000 objections were lodged against the plans and a host of anti-mining groups have since been formed in the Sperrins region.
In reply to the claims, a spokesperson for Dalradian said: “Dalradian has been a local employer since 2009 and is planning an environmentally responsible project that will bring major economic and social benefits.
"We are committed to supporting our local business community, especially as 13% of all jobs in the Mid-Ulster Council area are related to the extraction and processing of natural resources¹.
“Across Co. Tyrone the geoscience sector has supported thousands of local jobs for generations through mining, quarrying and the manufacture of minerals handling equipment.
"Dalradian will build upon this by supporting 1,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, spending £750m on the project’s supply chain over 20-25 years and working with other local firms to create a centre of excellence to develop specialisms in environmental care and mining technology.
“We have also received thousands of letters of support demonstrating significant local endorsement for the project and its capacity to help address issues of economic and social inequality in the region.”