The owners of the South African mine where 34 striking workers were shot dead are looking for valuable minerals in the Limavady area.
This comes as Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has announced planning approval to extend an underground exploration project for gold and common metals, near Gortin, County Tyrone.
The firm looking at a substantial swathe of land encompassing much of County Londonderry, Lonmin, are a public limited company listed on the London Stock Exchange and one of the world’s largest exporters of platinum.
They recently applied to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland for a ‘mineral exploration licence’ to cover an area stretching from just outside the Roe Valley Country Park in Limavady to Macosquin and Articlave, just outside Coleraine.
The licence area also takes in Benbradagh Mountain, as well as Magilligan on the beautiful North Coast.
Any work is likely to focus on sampling soils and rocks to determine where they might drill borehiles to test the geology for valuable minerals.
Lonmin have, since 2008, held nine mineral exploration licences in Northern Ireland covering a large swathe of territory - also including parts of the Ballymoney, Coleraine and Magherafelt council areas. Those licences are now set to expire and the firm is hoping for renewal in order to prospect for gold, silver and other valuable minerals.
Last year, Lonmin became embroiled in controversy after workers went on strike at a mine in Marikana, near Rustenburg in South Africa. The world looked on in horror as events escalated and a series of violent incidents between the South African Police Service, Lonmin security, the leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and strikers themselves resulted in the deaths of 44 people, 34 of whom were striking mineworkers shot dead on August 16. Another 78 workers, at least, were also injured on August 16.
The company are now hoping to find valuable minerals in an area including much of the Limavady Borough.
After being asked for their views by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment on Lonmin’s application to explore the area for valuable minerals, councillors in Limavady last night made no contribution.
Meanwhile, in Coleraine, Independent Councillor Bernadette Alexander raised environmental concerns and asked for more information before endorsing the application for a mineral exploration licence. She said: “We are trying to promote this area as a tourist area - and we need to think about this.”
In County Tyrone, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan is expecting around 50 jobs to be created as a result of the gold exploration work there. He said: “Companies like Dalradian Resources are working to unearth gold discoveries and in the process are bringing jobs and investment to the region, I very much welcome this. Over 50 jobs will be created. These and the wider benefits the development will help the local economy.”