Omagh Minerals received approval to extend operations at its gold, silver and lead mine in County Tyrone, Ireland.
The extension is expected to add 15 years to the life of the mine while boosting jobs and investment, said minister Mark H Durkan.
"The proposed operation by Omagh Minerals should help create numerous jobs and secure existing ones at the site. These and the wider benefits the development will bring will help the local economy,” Durkan said. “Environmental protection will be of paramount importance. The company will be operating within strict compliance parameters. This combination will help achieve my vision of creating a stronger economy, a better environment.”
The underground works within the existing mine site will extend to a length of 600 m and up to a depth of 350 m, The Belfast Telegraph reported.
The proposed extension will include the progressive restoration of the above ground site to ensure the protection and enhancement of landscape and habitat over time, the minister said.
Omagh Minerals is owned by Galantas Gold Corporation.
Another development firm has said Northern Ireland has the seventh richest undeveloped seam of gold in the world.
Dalradian Gold plans to start digging under a mountainous area of Co Tyrone and vowed to turn the region into a mining center of excellence.