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There's more than gold in Wicklow Hills

Wednesday, June 18 10:49:49

Irish-based zinc and gold explorer, Connemara, has said Ireland is a very prospective location, particularly for zinc, with gold the second mineral actively sought here.

However, in a statement accompanying the company's final results, chairman John Teeling said less known minerals were also being sought: "An English company, Tynagh Iron Mines Ltd, is exploring the former Tynagh zinc mine. They believe that they have discovered up to 100 million tons of iron ore. A Chinese company is reported as exploring for tungsten in the Wicklow Hills."

In addition, Mr Teeling said: "We are active explorers in Ireland. Teck, the large Canadian mining company, has partnered with Connemara in both the Limerick and Oldcastle areas. After outstanding drilling success in Limerick in 2007 and subsequent years, where they discovered a new zinc/lead deposit, they pulled back on drilling in 2013 to focus on evaluating six years of data. They have a limited budget with no drilling projected in2014."

Connemara is also involved in another joint venture with Teck joint venture. This one in the Oldcastle area of Meath, where the company believes there is potential for a Navan zinc mine type deposit.

Mr Teeing said "constraints of one type or another have meant that progress toward drilling specific targets is slower than we would like though we expect drilling this year".

Connemara also has a wholly owned zinc project in the Thurles area of Tipperary, close to the Vedanta owned Lisheen zinc mine. "We have spent time and money on the three licences re-analysing data including data from holes we drilled. We believe there is potential in the block so we renewed the licences."

He said the Connemara strategy was simple and clear: "Stretch exploration euro as far as possible on the best available ground in the most prospective country. We have done this well to date. We believe we have very good ground in Ireland. We persuaded companies to farm into most of this ground whereby they spend all of the exploration money while we retain an equity interest."

Mr Teeling said multinationals have different agendae and time scales to juniors. They can and do take a very long view of projects. They carry big overheads and are prepared to try out new technologies which can be expensive. "The experienced Connemara technical team would have chosen a different exploration programme for Stonepark in Limerick. However as the junior partner we cannot demand that our programmes are taken into account. The current programme has no drilling but still has a very significant overhead element. In the circumstances we cannot justify putting very scarce Connemara funds into this so we have diluted our interest."

He said gold and zinc have "excellent long term fundamentals. There is an emerging shortage of zinc and primary gold production does not match consumption. Ireland is a good place to explore for both minerals. We have good ground, good partners and interesting discoveries."