An extension to a gold mining operation in Co Tyrone has been approved, the environment minister said.
Planning permission for the mining of gold, silver and lead allows for a further 15 years of work by Omagh Minerals at Cavanacaw near Omagh.
Minister Mark H Durkan said the decision would boost jobs and investment.
“The proposed operation by Omagh Minerals should help create numerous jobs and secure existing ones at the site. These and the wider benefits the development will bring will help the local economy.
“Environmental protection will be of paramount importance. The company will be operating within strict compliance parameters. This combination will help achieve my vision of creating a stronger economy, a better environment.”
The underground works within the existing mine site will extend to a length of 600 metres and up to a depth of 350 metres.
The proposed extension will include the progressive restoration of the above ground site to ensure the protection and enhancement of landscape and habitat over time, the minister said.
Omagh Minerals is owned by Galantas Gold Corporation.
The company expects to expend £17-£20 million in capital investment.
Another development firm has said Northern Ireland has the seventh richest undeveloped seam of gold in the world.
Dalradian Gold plans to start digging under a mountainous area of Co Tyrone and vowed to turn the region into a mining centre of excellence.