The gold below the Sperrin Mountains is worth an astounding £2.5billion [$3.5b] according to the company that would like to dig it up.
But according to The Crown Estate, an independent company set up to manage sovereign assets such as gold, silver and the UK seabed, the nation would reap just a “small percentage” of its worth if Dalradian is given the go-ahead to mine there.
Curious about what’s in it for local people, who have grave concerns about the safety of using cyanide at the mine as well as the impact it will have on their countryside, the Mail contacted DETI to ask what sort of deal had been done with Dalradian Gold.
A spokesperson for the department said: “Gold and Silver belong to the Crown Estates and were not vested in the department. Licences for precious metals prospecting are issued by the Crown Estate Commissioners.”
So since, gold and silver were held back in the Mineral Development Act of 1969, any licences for exploration are given the go-ahead by The Crown Estate - which said similar deals net around £20,000 over five years for an exploration licence.
“In Northern Ireland, along with Great Britain, The Crown Estate is tasked by parliament to manage a diverse range of assets, including awarding licences for gold and silver, to drive returns for the benefit of the nation’s finances,” a spokesperson for the company said.
I’m not talking about a single mine. We are working on building a mine camp here.
But they could not reveal any further details about the nature of their contract with Dalradian and what it might make the taxpayer, because of “commercial confidentiality”.
Yet everything the private enterprise makes goes back to the treasury - as it works for the nation.
In the last 10 years The Crown Estate has made £2.3billion - fifth of a billion short of what Sperrins gold is worth if politicians got their pick axes out and dug it up themselves.
But, DETI, added: “Invest Northern Ireland has offered Dalradian Resources £326,817 of support for 19 new jobs and associated training. This support will generate almost £1m a year in salaries to the local economy.”
Asked if they were registered to pay UK tax, they added: “Dalradian Gold Ltd is a company incorporated in Northern Ireland and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dalradian Resources Inc, a Canadian gold exploration company.”
Dalradian did not respond to requests for a comment.