Glen­core starts drilling again at Pal­las Green

Zinc and lead at site that could po­ten­tially house Ire­land’s sec­ond-largest mine, writes Gavin Mcloughlin

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

MIN­ING gi­ant Glen­core has re-started drilling at its Pal­las Green prospect in Lim­er­ick, the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent has learnt.

The project had been put into abeyance for a num­ber of years, but Glen­core has moved eight rigs on to the site in re­cent weeks.

The com­pany, which has had a tur­bu­lent run on the back of fall­ing com­mod­ity prices and a large debt pile, re­cently de­clared “job done” on ef­forts to cut its debt.

A Glen­core spokesman con­firmed that the com­pany had en­gaged a lo­cal firm for drilling at Pal­las Green.

“The ob­jec­tive is to bet­ter un­der­stand cer­tain as­pects of the de­posit,” the spokesman said, adding that any de­ci­sion about build­ing a fully-fledged mine at the site was “a long way down the road”.

A 2013 Glen­core re­port said that the site could po­ten­tially have as much as 42 mil­lion tonnes of re­cov­er­able re­sources. Lead and zinc are present there.

If that fig­ure proves ac­cu­rate, a mine there would be the sec­ond-largest in Ire­land after the fa­mous Tara mine near Na­van in Meath, Europe’s big­gest zinc mine.

That mine is owned by Swedish com­pany Boli­den, which said ear­lier this year that it was in­vest­ing €44m to deepen the mine and boost its life­span by six years.

The price of zinc has soared 70pc in the past 18 months, lead­ing to a ma­te­rial uptick in ac­tiv­ity in the Ir­ish sec­tor. Ir­ish min­er­als ex­plorer Uni­corn Min­eral Re­sources is in talks to sell it­self to a Cana­dian-listed com­pany, in a deal that could value it at some €7m. It is also con­sid­er­ing list­ing in Canada via a re­verse takeover of a cash shell.

In ad­di­tion, Cana­dian-listed Han­nan Me­tals has started drilling at a prospect in Kil­bricken in Co Clare.

“Our team has worked hard to ex­tract as much in­for­ma­tion as pos­si­ble from the ex­ten­sive project and re­gional data­bases that took pre­vi­ous ex­plor­ers more than €16m to ac­quire... we are wast­ing no time in get­ting a drill rig turn­ing at this highly prospec­tive base metal prop­erty,” Han­nan chief ex­ec­u­tive and chair­man Michael Hud­son told the mar­ket ear­lier this month.

Canada is one of the world’s big­gest min­ing hubs, and an­other Cana­dian com­pany has taken a stake in Dublin-based zinc ex­plorer Group Eleven Re­sources.

The in­vest­ment by Van­cou­ver-head­quar­tered MAG Sil­ver in the Ir­ish firm was part of a wider fundrais­ing that saw the com­pany raise al­most €1.1m from back­ers to de­velop zinc projects in this coun­try. In­vestors in the com­pany in­clude for­mer Davy cor­po­rate fi­nance boss Hugh Mccutcheon.

Group Eleven ceo Bart Ja­worski was pre­vi­ously an eq­uity an­a­lyst at Davy.

The com­pany has Lim­er­ick prospects south of the Pal­las Green site, and re­ceived €500,000 from MAG Sil­ver.

Stock mar­ket-listed MAG Sil­ver de­vel­ops sil­ver mines in Mex­ico. It has a mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion of around CAD$1.3BN (€864m).

Ivan Glasen­berg, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Glen­core

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