Perhaps the best way to understand Dalradian’s project is to compare it to a hi-tech, highly regulated, precision-led quarry – only one that is based underground with some processing on the surface.
There are six stages to Dalradian’s approach. The sixth is ‘Rehabilitation’.
Responsible mine closure is an opportunity for a positive legacy.
Although mine operations may last up to 25 years, Dalradian has already submitted proposals to return the site to its present-day use in a Rehabilitation and Closure Plan. The plan forms the basis for a legal agreement with the Department for Infrastructure and which regulators / stakeholders will feed into. It will be regularly updated to take account of new technology and community views.
Rehabilitation is integral to the mine’s design and will start during operations. The Dry Stack Facility, for instance, will be progressively replanted with hedgerows and native species, and re-contoured to blend into the local landscape.
Some rehabilitation, i.e., removing underground equipment, can only occur after operations finish, but the objective is to restore the site to productive use for farming and/or heathlands. Alternatively, the community may wish to retain and repurpose some buildings / infrastructure, create a nature reserve to enhance biodiversity and act as a carbon sink or support other sustainability projects. Most rehabilitation will be completed within one year after closure but monitoring to ensure that environmental requirements are met will continue. Dalradian will provide a financial guarantee and set aside funds (in advance and agreed with Government) to cover all rehabilitation costs as is the case at our current exploration site.
We also want to leave a legacy that supports the wealth and health of our community. A good example of what can be achieved is Lisheen Mine, Co. Tipperary. When it closed in 2015 a carefully structured closure plan was initiated in consultation with local communities. €80m-worth of facilities were kept, helping establish a leading European bio-tech research hub.
Dalradian has committed a minimum of £4m to support community sustainability projects and a £15m training programme should operations proceed. With skills development and training, community investment, business start-ups and expansions, potential development of centres of excellence, and the option to repurpose above-ground infrastructure or create a nature reserve, who knows what opportunities the future will bring?