Turkish industrial giant now involved in plan to haul gold out from beneath south Armagh

A major mining company has become involved in a plan to extract gold from beneath the soil of Co Armagh.

By Adam Kula
Thursday, 6th January 2022, 4:04 pm
A map of the Clay Lake gold deposit area; the red means an elevated level of gold (over 20 parts per billion)

The firm is called Demir Export, headquartered in the Turkish capital Ankara.

The firm already runs gold mines in Anatolia, and is itself part of the mighty Koç Group (pronounced Kotch), which describes itself as “Turkey’s biggest industrial conglomorate”.

The company has now signed a joint venture with Conroy Gold and Natural Resources PLC – a Dublin-based outfit that trades on the London Stock Exchange.

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The 30g gold nugget found at Clay Lake in the 1980s

Conroy Gold is run by a former Fianna Fail politician calledProfessor Richard Conroy.

He served in the Irish Parliament as a member of the senate from the 1970s to the 1990s, and there held the posts of government spokeman for Northern Ireland, foreign affairs, and energy and industry.

Whilst he has long been involved in te mineral business, Prof Conroy is actually a specialist in physiology with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, who has done research into jet lag and people’s night-and-day bodily rhythms.

Conroy has been exploring a region called the Longford–Down Massif for many years.

The massif is basically a big, partly-unified slab of rock, and this one stretches from the southern shore of Belfast Lough all the way to Co Longford in the Republic.

One site in particular is of interest to the firm: the land surrounding Clay Lake in south Armagh.

The zone is known as the “Clay Lake gold target”, and it spans an area of about 140 hectares (350 acres).

It was named after the Clay Lake Nugget; a 30g nugget, with a gold content of 28g, that was found there in the 1980s and is now displayed in the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

According to the firm, the amount of gold deposit to be found in the area is up to 1.53 grams per tonne.

Conroy is a mineral-hunting firm, which seeks to uncover precious deposits, rather then mine them – instead, that is where Demir comes in.

The fact that the two firms have now agreed to join hands heralds a big step towards actually pulling the gold deposits out of the ground on an industrial scale.

Many things about the plan are not known yet.

This includes what environmental conditions will be placed on any extraction licences, when work will begin, or what form the mines will take (though it is thought likely they will be open-cast ones, like quarries, instead of underground tunnels).

The joint venture between the two firms was announced publicly on Tuesday of this week.

A separate project for gold extraction – led by a different company – has run into significant controversy in Co Tyrone. About four months ago it was announced that Nichola Mallon, the infrastructure minister, was calling on the Planning Appeals Commission to convene a public inquiry into the Dalradian mine project in Greencastle, a plan which has sparked around 40,000 representations.

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