“This was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse”
Having worked on mining projects across the world Emma Brosnan understands just how unique Dalradian’s proposed underground mine at Curraghinalt is.
“I’ve been working for Dalradian for almost six years now. Before that I worked on exploration projects in North America, Europe and Africa, but to work on a project as exciting and on a deposit as large as this in Northern Ireland was an opportunity that I couldn’t refuse.”
“Geology jobs like this are hard to come by and to find one in an area as great as Tyrone is even rarer.”
As Dalradian’s Geology and Exploration Manager, few people understand the gold, silver and copper deposit at Curraghinalt better than Emma.
Defining the deposit
On a day-to-day basis Emma’s job means that she could be overseeing exploration work as required by prospecting licences issued by Government or reviewing lab reports that identify where the mineral deposit is located.
“We’re always trying to improve our understanding of where the metals are located underground – the more we know about the deposit, the more precise our work will be when mining starts.
“This is known as defining the deposit; it’s like solving a massive underground puzzle which noone has done before. The best way to investigate what is happening underground is to use drilling.”
Drilling involves taking rock core samples which are just 5-10 cm wide from deep underground. The authorisation process includes notification to the council which consults with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency to ensure that the appropriate procedures are in place. The samples are sent for analysis to determine what elements the rock contains.
Emma continued: “Dalradian acquired exploration licences in 2009 and since then there has been a huge amount of time, effort and investment put into locating the best underground veins.
“We’ve completed a number of comprehensive drilling programmes to provide a very good picture of where the gold-bearing veins are located. Our contractors used local suppliers and workers from the local area as drill helpers, some of whom have gone on to train and qualify as drillers.
“State-of-the-art 3D modelling software allows us to join the dots together. This gives us an indication of where the best veins are, and it will provide the mining engineers with a valuable insight into how best to remove the mineral bearing rock.”
What is particularly exciting about the deposit at Curraghinalt is its polymetallic nature, i.e., it’s not just gold, there are also significant quantities of silver and copper (metals which already play a critical role in renewable technologies that are helping society move towards a fossil free future).
For geologists like Emma, exploring a deposit of this nature is as close as it comes to a dream job. It’s also satisfying to know that unlocking the secrets of what lies beneath our feet can help build a more prosperous and sustainable society.
FAQ: What is a deposit?
A mineral deposit is an accumulation of any single mineral or combination of minerals of economic interest.