History of Irish Mining

Ireland has a long tradition of mining dating back to the Bronze Age. Coal, lead and copper mining flourished during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Following a period of relative decline, the discovery of the Tynagh lead zinc copper mine in 1961 was followed by further discoveries at Silvermines and Gortdrum. These mines have now closed, but the development of the Navan mine in 1974, followed by the Galmoy and Lisheen mines means that Ireland is a leading European producer of zinc and lead concentrates in Europe (http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/Natural/Exploration). Base Metal exploration discoveries continue with major companies, including Xstrata (Pallas Green, Limerick 2010 inferred resource of 24.1Mt grading at 7.85% Zn and 1.35% Pb), Teck (Limerick best drill result at 7.45m at 19.24% Zn/8.52% Pb), Lundin (County Clare best drill intersection at Dec 2011 – Hole 153 with 9.6m at 6.18% Zn/1.65% Pb, and second deeper zone at 3m 6.8% Cu) & New Boliden actively working across the Midland Basin.

The Avoca Mines are located to the east of the Leinster Granites. These mines are VHMS deposits hosted by Ordovician age tuffs and felsites of the Duncannon Group. Periodically operating from 1720 until 1982, there is evidence of Bronze Age. Associated minerals include pyrite, sphalerite, galena & gold/silver.

Government policy is to support the development of Ireland's mineral resources provided this is done in an environmentally and socially responsible way. The Minerals Development Acts, 1940 to 1999 are the principal legislative instruments which govern

activity in this area.  A new Minerals Development Bill is currently being developed which will consolidate these Acts and will also update and modernise many of their provisions.

The Exploration and Mining Division (EMD) is responsible for the administration of regulatory aspects of Ireland’s minerals industry by means of a  system of Prospecting Licences, and Mining Leases and Licences

State Mining Facilities are negotiated on a case by case basis as required by Section 26 of the Minerals Development Act 1940, which also applies to Licences under the Minerals Development Act 1979 (see Section 17 of the 1979 Act).


• Sole right of working minerals vested in the state

• Royalties fixed by individual agreement. Currently a percentage of net revenues for base metals, and on tonnage extracted in the case of industrial minerals

• Private mineral owners receive compensation

• Corporation Tax at 25% for mines, and 12.5% on income and chargeable gains from general trading

• Capital allowances include exploration and development expenditure, expenditure on plant, machinery, buildings, up to 100%

• Immediate write-off of exploration and development expenditure

• Cost of rehabilitation after closure is tax deductible


At the EU level the Commission has recently launched an initiative aimed at acquiring secure supplies of raw material for European industry.  


In February 2012 Hendrick Resources and Connemara Mining Plc (CMC) (www.connemaramc.com) announced a joint venture which would begin exploration work on four CMC licenses on the Wicklow/Wexford border. A fifth license was added to the JV when CMC had fulfilled their first 2-year commitment to the Exploration & Mining Division prospecting licence terms. The Company can earn a 50% interest in these licences by spending €500,000 and may extend its option to 75% by investing a further €500,000. Initial exploration has been completed with an airborne geophysical survey. Subsequent exploration will include ground geochemistry and geophysics with follow up drill testing.

The Airborne Magnetic, Electromagnetic & Radiometric Survey over the JV area started in April and was completed in May 2012. Total survey coverage was of 885 km2.  The survey was flown by Terraquest Geophysics, a Canadian company operating world-wide. The new survey data is currently being combined with historical data on gold prospects in the area to inform the next phase of ground follow-up. The first phase of this work will include regional soil sampling traverses over the zones identified from a combination of the new survey work and the historical datasets from previous operators.

2012 Total Field Magnetics – merged with Tara Exploration 2000 survey

The results from the airborne survey have proven to contain many tantalizing targets, which could fit to a variety of mineralization models. Some of these models are outlined below.


Generalised Geological Map for south-east Ireland (from GSI 1:500,000 Map)


The Leinster Granites to the west are overlain by Ribband Group metasediments, which are intruded by dioritic & felsic dykes. Faulted Serpentinites have been mapped to the north of Carnew in the central area. Duncannon Group felsic volcanics and rhyolites overly and are faulted against the Ribband metasediments to the south-east.