Dalradian Gold has shipped 15,000 tonnes of high grade gold ore from its mine in the Sperrins to the US to be smelted down and sold.
A report in Washington State newspaper The Olympian said on February 22 that a shipment of gold ore from Northern Ireland was due to arrive on Friday, February 24.
“The customer is Northern Ireland’s Dalradian Gold Ltd, which loaded the ship Trinity Borg with 15,000 tons of the stuff,” the story said.
It went on to explain how “ore will be unloaded into dump trucks” before being hauled “to its final destination: a smelter in the Eastern Washington community of Republic” - a job expected to take 42 workers a month, day and night.
When the Mail asked Dalradian what would be done with the gold, their spokesperson confirmed it would be sold.
Northern Ireland’s Department for the Economy, which licenced Dalradian to prospect for gold in the Province, said: “They are not permitted to sell or otherwise dispose of minerals worked except for the purpose of ascertaining the character or value of same.
“Mineral Prospecting Licences granted by the department under The Minerals Development Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 permit licensees to make borings, sink pits, remove water from old workings and take and remove reasonable quantities of any such material for analysis, test, trial or experiment.”
The Mail has asked what a reasonable quantity was, but didn’t get a response before going to print.
The Department said it was aware of the shipment “for testing and analysis”.
During a tour of Dalradian’s Camcosey Road site last September the Mail was shown a “shed full of gold ore” like that shipped to the west coast of America.
A Dalradian staff member said during that tour: “I think what puzzles a lot of people is that we don’t take the gold out of there right now, but we don’t have a licence to do that.
“This is an exploration project to demonstrate what we can do, and that’s the end of the process.”
Dalradian has as yet made no further comment on the matter.