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Updated 22:58 22/03/18

Planning permission granted to establish Britain’s only gold mine

Liam Sheasby

By Liam Sheasby, News Editor

06 Mar 2018

Photo of the Cononish Mine courtesy of Scotgold Resources

Up in the Scottish hills near the idyllic village of Tyndrum is a deposit of gold worth over £200 million according to prospective miners Scotgold. Research performed in 2012 and again in 2015 estimates around five tonnes of gold is lying in wait, and now the company has been granted permission to begin their mining operation.

The Cononish Mine sits south-west of Tyndrum and has been closed since the 1980s. It is located on the northern side of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, with many prominent walking routes and climbing areas nearby. Locals and environmental campaigners aired their concerns that the site – originally intending to have a large dam built – would be damaging to the landscape.

Planning permission was since granted at the end of February by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority, who had previously been opposed to the move but were now satisfied by changes to the Scotgold site proposals.

James Stuart, Convener of the park authority board, said: “Overall the National Park Planning Authority and our Board members concluded that the short to medium term impacts will be outweighed by the longer term environmental gains, particularly the landscape and habitat improvements to be made through the Greater Cononish Glen Management Plan, as well as the social and economic benefits for the local community and wider area and the overall long term improvements for recreational activities within the area.

“The National Park is a special place, but it is also a place where people live and work and it is the Park Authority’s job to balance the need for development with the heritage and conservation of this unique landscape.”

Photo courtesy of Google Maps. The red marker indicates Tyndrum, with the Cononish Mine located nearby.

The decision is predicted boost to tourism and the wedding industry in the region, as well as employ around 60 people and source materials and resources from the local economy. Work on the site is expected to begin officially in 2019, giving Scotgold time to raise the rest of the money needed to get their operation up and running. At present the Australian company has raised £3 million of the £10 million required to begin mining. Following the Park Authority’s approval, the share price for Scotgold rose by 24.5%.

Speaking on the announcement, Richard Gray, CEO of Scotgold, said: "We are delighted with this decision which paves the way for the development of the mine which will result in full production of the Cononish Deposit.

"I am convinced that our project will meet both the highest environmental standards and provide a significant boost to the local economy around Tyndrum."

Scotgold’s analysis of the mine and the land itself shows that there is around 560,000 tonnes of ore in the underground mine. Of that, five tonnes is gold, and more is believed to be a mix of silver, copper, and other valuable metal. The company has a 17-year plan drawn up for harvesting the ores and the initial aim is to produce 12,000 ounces of gold per year.

The Australian mining outfit has been producing small amounts of gold and other precious metals above ground for the past 18 months, refining 2,400 tonnes of ore stockpiled outside the mine entrance since closure. As part of the fundraising process for beginning operations, Scotgold minted 10 one-ounce ‘rounds’ which were then auctioned off as limited-edition items of Scottish gold, fetching £46,000 per coin.

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