Wednesday 26th October 2016: Ronan Conway and Gavin Harris: Gold Mining in Omagh
The topic was introduced by Mr Conway who provided an overview of gold production in Omagh by the mining company “Galantas“. The narrative was taken forward by his colleague, Mr Gavin Harris who traced he history of gold mining from ancient Egypt to modern times. Demand and scarcity has pushed the price today to £1,050 per ounce. It is estimated that Northern Ireland has gold reserves worth over £5 billion. Between 2007 and 2013 almost a tonne [984 kg] of gold was extracted from the mine at Cavanacaw, where production costs average £340 per ounce. Sperrin gold is so fine grained that the rock in which it is found has to be crushed . Extraction is done by “frothing”, a process in which powdered ore is mixed with water and “detergent”; air is then pumped in from below to make it froth. The gold, along with small amounts of silver, lead and arsenic stick to the bubbles which are separated from the mix and concentrated for export to Canada for refining. Waste rock is put back into the pits and the area landscaped and monitored in accordance with strict environmental controls. The speakers were thanked by Mr Paddy McGowan who recalled many meetings between the Council and the Company to address concerns about the impact of the operation on the environment and local community before planning permission was granted.