Business news

Mid-Tyrone is one of UK’s top potential sources of raw materials for decarbonization

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4th Dec 2023

Dalradian, the American company developing an environmentally responsible polymetallic mine in Co. Tyrone, has announced that in addition to gold, silver and copper, the project also contains the UK critical minerals Tellurium, Antimony, Bismuth, Molybdenum and Cobalt.

Having a reliable supply of critical minerals has been highlighted by UK, EU, US and other governments as vital to industry and the transition to net zero. Such minerals are usually found in association with other metals and are sometimes referred to as ‘companion metals’.

Critical minerals lists vary by country and over time. Copper and gold are currently classified as critical minerals in many countries and silver is on many candidate lists for potential future inclusion. The EU is currently concluding its Critical Raw Materials Act which will guarantee key mining projects a permitting process no longer than two years. It will set targets on extraction, processing and recycling and is seen as central in delivering a decarbonised society and environment.

Which minerals are critical?

Dalradian’s CEO, Patrick F.N. Anderson, said:

“The UK government’s goal of accelerating domestic mineral production will only be achieved through large-scale investment by companies such as ours. Since 2009, we’ve brought over $400 million of investment and completed a huge amount of exploration, engineering and environmental work. One of the largest-ever US investments in Northern Ireland is waiting on a planning decision for the proposed mine. Planning approval will trigger the creation of 1,000 jobs, a major supply chain spend and tax payments – all amounting to $2 billion over the life of the project. These benefits will be delivered responsibly, with use of best practices to protect the environment, alongside community development and strong governance.

“To date, our work has focused on the big three in our deposit, gold, silver and copper. All the way along we have also been testing for a broader suite of 50 minerals. Since the launch of the UK critical minerals strategy, government research drawing from our historical sampling shows our project contains minerals vital for the transition to net zero that are on the UK’s critical minerals list. These results merit additional research, which we are doing.”

Securing local supply of minerals and reducing the UK’s reliance on imports is crucial for supporting industries, jobs, and the transition to a decarbonised economy. The UK launched its Critical Mineral Strategy in 2021, along with its initial list of critical minerals. The UK Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre was also created to support and update the strategy and list through ongoing research.

The next update of the critical minerals list is anticipated in 2024. A wider range of candidates are being assessed for inclusion, including copper. One of the goals of the UK strategy is to avoid environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues that can occur in jurisdictions with lower regulatory standards, for example, with respect to health & safety or the environment.

Dalradian is supporting ongoing research on the availability of critical minerals in the region by both the UK government and Northern Ireland authorities. The Critical Minerals Intelligence Centre (British Geological Survey) published a report earlier this year identifying areas of the UK as prospective for critical raw materials – mid-Tyrone was one of the locations highlighted. Other government research has shown that Dalradian’s project can potentially fulfil the entire Tellerium demand in the UK, crucial to applications such as solar panels, thermoelectrics and metallurgy, worth a total of £14.35 billion annually to the UK economy.

The details were published in Dalradian’s 2022 Responsible Business Report which also explains the company’s business, strategy, activities and performance in a number of areas, including environmental, social and corporate governance for the period January to December 2022. The report includes key metrics and case studies illustrating Dalradian’s long-term, responsible approach to modern mining. This is the fourth annual Responsible Business Report produced by Dalradian. A new addition in 2022 was the integration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the company’s reporting.

Key achievements for 2022:

  • Certification as Carbon Neutral Plus for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Carbon emissions were reduced by 75% measured against baseline year (2019).
  • Maintained three-year Investors in People (IIP) certification, reaccredited to IIP Gold Standard.
  • Zero environmental and health & safety non-compliance.
  • Support for charities and community surpassing £1.2 million.
  • 522 suppliers across Northern Ireland have contributed to the project to date.
  • Our Sustainability Team commenced work with suppliers to reduce the carbon footprint of the proposed mine throughout the supply chain.