Those seeking jobs and a much needed push to the Scottish Economy will have to weigh the pros against the cons when considering the reopening of Scotland’s only gold mine. Scotgold Resources wants to reopen the mine which is located north of Glasgow and within the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. However, the park’s goals remain to give greater consideration to conservation over any other aim or goal.
The application for Scotgold Resources (SR) is due to be considered by the Park’s Board of Directors next week. SR wants to extract 20,000 ounces of gold a year from the mine. They have invested millions of dollars into the project through their Australian parent company. RS expects the reopening would provide a 50 million pound boost to the area.
The National Park’s planning director, Gordon Watson, has announced that he believes the application should be turned down. He believes the long term impact on the landscape and overall environment is too much of a risk. He also questioned the economic benefits of a gold mine in this economy.
Chief executive of SR, Chris Sangster, took issue with Watson’s belief of there being a negative impact on the landscape and the mine’s profitability.
He responded: “We are a mining company with considerable experience of price fluctuations and would take the opportunity to hedge prices. If we thought the price of gold would go down we could lock on to the current price. At today’s price the mine would be very profitable.”
He added: “There is a history of mining including lead workings and our plan is to have a visitor centre as a focal point for that heritage. We are very disappointed at this recommendation after we have been working with the national park and other statutory authorities for three years. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) has withdrawn its objection after we provided more information which satisfied its concerns about the impact.”
The Strathfillan Community Council is supporting SR in reopening mining. The chairman, John Riley, stated that the area needed jobs that paid above the minimum rate and that “An interpretive centre would be a magnet for visitors from the UK and abroad. To take this prospect away from a community which has been exceptionally enterprising will be a terrible blow.”
On the other side of the argument are objections from 25 organizations and individuals. Such organizations that are opposed are: The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, Scottish Campaign for National Parks, Scottish National Heritage, the John Muir Trust, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
The SR application is to extract up to 72,000 tonnes a year, with a total of 723,000 tonnes of ore. Mr Watson, the Park’s planning director said a large processing building and waste storage faccility wuld cover 39 hectares on the surface. It would eventually contain 820,000 tonnes of residual slurry from the mines operation.