The Galway branch of People Before Profit have added their voice to local opposition to plans for exploratory mining in Connemara.
The Canadian mining company MOAG Copper Gold Resources is seeking a prospecting licence to look for gold and silver in the in an area west of Roundstone affecting the townlands of Boolagare, Callow, Dolan, Doohulla, Emlaghmore, Errisbeg West, Murvey, and Tullaghlumman Beg.
The government has said that it intends to grant this exploratory licence, which would not allow MOAG to mine or process anything found.
But numerous local groups and An Taisce have objected to the plans, which it has been said endanger Special Areas of Conservation such as Roundstone Bog.
People Before Profit Galway have said that they support the efforts of An Taisce and the group ‘’Protect Connemara: Keeping Roundstone Bog / Ballyconneely free from mining’’ in opposing the plans.
Local PBP representative Joe Loughnane said that this is “yet another example of a lack of public consultation in a project that has massive potential implications for the community.”
“As the chairperson of ‘Protect Connemara’ Terri Conroy has pointed out, if the license was granted and a mine opened, the mine itself would only be around for 15-20 years, while the impact on the environment would last for much longer.’’
At a public meeting in Maam attended by roughly 150 people earlier this month Galway West TD Seán Kyne tried to downplay the significance of the prospecting licence.
He said that there are more than 500 prospecting licences operating in Ireland, while only 16 mining licences have been granted.
However green party councillors at the meeting were highly critical of the licences being granted without a thorough assessment of potential environmental impacts.
Joe Loughnane said that the lack of consideration given to environmental impact shows that the government is only paying “lip service” towards environmental protection.
“Since the release of the lacklustre 2019 Climate Action Plan, Fine Gael have shown time and time again that they will always prioritise the interests of private industry over the interests of normal people and communities.”
“Most people don’t need to be told twice that major, systemic changes need to be made to how we manage our economy if we’re going to mitigate climate change.”
He concluded by saying that putting a gold mine in the middle of a rural area is “short term thinking” that shows where Fine Gael’s loyalties lie.
Others have argued that the environmental impact of simply prospecting for minerals will be minimal, and that the licence should be viewed in that light.
Another rural group which has voiced its objection to the mining plans, Glór na Tuaithe, is holding a demonstration outside the county hall at 12pm today.