A desperate need for jobs and the ever-soaring price of gold have prompted officials in Scotland to approve plans for that country’s first ever commercial gold mine.
The Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority approved a plan for a 10-year underground gold mining facility in Cononish near Tyndrum, citing that economic potential outweigh environmental concerns.
The Authority, however, insisted that the company that will develop the property, Scotgold Resources, take measures to minimize the long-term environmental impact of the mining operation.
A prior application in 2010 by Scotgold to secure permission to construct a mine at the locale was rejected on environmental grounds.
Linda McKay, National Park Convener said in a statement: “Without question this has been the largest and most complicated planning application we have ever had to consider. As guardians of some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland, it would have been easy to refuse the second application if we were considering the short-term impact on the landscape but this National Park plans for long-term conservation management and that includes having the vision to see beyond the temporary life of the gold mine. We also have to take into consideration the support from the local Community Council who back the proposals.”
McKay further assured: “We… have a 30-year commitment to improve the wider Glen Cononish . [This plan] will include extending existing native Caledonian pine forest and improving habitats and access tracks. This legally binding agreement means the Glen will regain its quiet, remote character following closure of the mine and the landscape will be improved from its current state. Overall, as a board we understand that there will be a temporary loss to Glen Cononish's special character, but we have greater confidence that we can secure both long-term conservation gain and economic benefits to the local economy and Scotland.”
BBC reported that Scotgold Resources seeks to mine more than £50 million ($80 million) worth of gold and silver from the Tyndrum property.
The Park Authority claims that approximately 72,000 tonnes of ore can be extracted annually. From that ore, the company will recover 21,000 ounces of gold and 83,000 ounces of every year.
Scotgold's chief executive officer Chris Sangster said in a statement: We are delighted with the decision from the park's board in approving the executive director's recommendation. This represents the culmination of three years' detailed work towards planning a mining development which meets the exacting environmental standards required by the National Park Authority.
BBC noted that gold has not been successfully mined in Scotland in 500 years. However, will gold now nearing $1700 per ounce, mining for the precious metal has become more economically attractive.