The much-hyped plan to reopen Scotland's only gold mine in a national park has hit rough weather with its planning chief saying that the project should be abandoned due to the long-term impact on environment.
According to media reports, Scotgold Resources wants to extract 20,000 ounces of gold a year from Cononish, south of Tyndrum, Argyll, which lies about 50 miles north of Glasgow and within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
The mining company said it would provide a £50 million boost to the area and fulfil the park's aims that include promoting sustainable use of natural resources and improving the economic and social development of communities.
But with just a week to go before the planning application is due to be considered by the park's board, planning director Gordon Watson said it should be turned down because of the long-term impact on the landscape. He also said that fluctuating gold prices would make the economic benefits uncertain.
Watson's report said it would run against the park's requirement to give greater weight to conservation over its other core aims. These include promoting sustainable use of natural resources and the sustainable economic and social development of the area's communities.
However, Scotgold, which has ploughed millions of dollars into the project through its Australian parent firm, denied that the price of gold would go down and said that at today's price, the mine would be profitable.
The application is to extract up to 723,000 tonnes in total (72,000 tonnes a year) of ore from a quartz vein that runs through Beinn Chuirn, an 880-metre Corbett in the north-west corner of the national park.
The proposal has been supported by Strathfillan Community Council, whose chairman, John Riley, said he would be lobbying hard at the board meeting at Tyndrum on August 18.
Watson, who questioned whether it would be worth £50m, said a large processing building and waste storage facility would cover about 39 hectares on the surface. It would eventually store 820,000 tonnes of residual slurry from the crushing and grinding of the ore in a dam which would be 30 metres at its highest point.
Objections have been received from 25 organisations and individuals including Scottish Natural Heritage, the John Muir Trust, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks.
(Source: Scotland Herald)