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Scotland’s first underground gold mine could be up and running near Tyndrum by early next year, creating more than 60 jobs and making local businesses a fortune.
So far Scotgold Resources Ltd has raised £3 million from shareholders towards the scheme at Cononish gold mine but once it gets a ‘yes’ from the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Planning Authority, it will seek another £7 million from new investors to help make it happen.
The company put in a revised application last year which was ‘much more environmentally friendly’, said Scotgold’s chief executive officer, Richard Gray, who is expecting approval. The existing application was due to run out this month.
The mine would take one year to build, including creating a waste site for all the left-over crushed rock, which would mimic a natural glacier in the valley, said Mr Gray.
Changes include the Allt Eas Anie burn, which crosses the site, no longer needing to be diverted and permission is now being sought for mining operations to be phased over 17 years instead of 10 years.
The new application still includes a process plant building, a site drainage system, a new bridge over the Crom Allt at the Dalrigh ford and a small car parking area for employees adjacent the existing car park at Dalrigh.
A bulk processing trial continues onsite to process material excavated in the 1980s to extract gold. Its first ounce of gold, produced above the ground from tonnes of ore stockpiled since the 1980s, sold for £21,000 at an auction in Edinburgh.
Mr Gray added: ‘If we get permission, and we have every reason to expect that we will get it because we came back with a better scheme, it would create 63 direct jobs and we would be buying materials we need from local suppliers, boosting the local economy. We hope it won’t be too long before we get a decision from the national park authority.’
Scotgold has previously estimated several tonnes of gold could be extracted from Cononish.
A spokesperson for the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Planning Authority said: ‘A planning application was received from Scotgold on the August 10, 2017, for their revised mine proposal at Cononish gold mine at Tyndrum. This is being considered according to the national park authority’s standard planning procedures.’
According to the spokesperson, there is no update on anything further at this point.
There was a history of exploratory mining activity at Cononish before the national park authority was created. The original application by Scotgold was approved on October 25, 2011, for the development of an underground mine.