Dalradian have plans to mine for gold in the Sperrins.
Last week the County Derry Post received the following letter from a concerned teenager who articulated her thoughts on prospective gold mining in the Sperrins.
My name is Erin Kerlin and I am 13 years-old. I live in the heart of the Sperrin mountains with my Mum, Dad and two sisters. Where I live is very scenic. We have lots of beautiful scenery and live close to the Faughan River, and its tributary the Glenrandal River.
The Faughan runs through Claudy Country Park and Learmount Forest where I spend lots of time with my friends from Park village. The Glenrandal river runs just alongside my home.
My friends and I also play Gaelic and like so many other children in rural Ireland, no matter what their religion or background, sport is our only available pastime.
The recent lockdowns have made me appreciate the beauty of my surroundings even more, but I worry now about the landscape and the future of the countryside that my friends and I are growing up in. All children should have the right to grow up safely and be able to enjoy and appreciate the countryside we live in.
The reason for my worry is gold mining. I have researched the process of gold mining and cannot find a happy ending for our countryside. My Uncle Joe is totally against anything which harms our countryside and its people, I have talked to him and asked him so many questions. How can something that would damage our countryside so much be allowed to happen?
Ireland is often called the Emerald Isle and its beauty is in the green fields and rich habitats of our countryside. Our ancestors have lived here for thousands of years.
What I have learnt about the process of gold mining leaves me feeling very uneasy! It is not about sifting rivers or streams or digging for nuggets of gold like most people think but about gold dust!
The gold dust is embedded in cracks in the rocks, rocks which must be blown up using underground explosives and then taken away to another area to be crushed into a fine silt.
The gold is then extracted from this silt. This all sounds straightforward until I realised that the silt or ‘slag’ produced is just going to be left along our mountainsides in silos forever!
Worst of all though is the potential for damage and pollution to our rivers! The process requires thousands of litres of water to cool down the drills which would get red hot otherwise.
This water comes from deep underground which could leave our rivers without water, killing off the fish, creatures and plant life that depend on the rivers for survival.
How safe will our drinking water be and the waters we feed our farm animals and pets?? These are rivers we play in and walk alongside throughout the year!
So what has this got to do with you? Sport is the heart of our communities whether it is Gaelic Football, soccer, rugby, cricket or hurling;the list goes on.
These sports and groups and clubs that use them provide so much for our people, especially the children. Sport keeps us healthy, grows friendships and a sense of community and especially in our current Covid situation it helps our mental health and well being.
Can you imagine what our homeland would look like in five or ten years, maybe even less if our gold mining goes ahead? Our government is supporting this!
I worry about the future of our countryside and our sporting facilities; can they exist if the rivers are poisoned? Will it be safe to play in our woodlands and along our riversides? Will we have to move from the homes that we love?
The mining process could last over 25 years! How much harm would be done to our countryside in this length of time? I feel that for our voices to be heard against mining it needs a powerful voice.
That is why I am writing to you and all the main sporting facilities and clubs in Northern Ireland - to implore our government to take the potential for harm by gold mining seriously.
To petition them to rethink gold mining in our small country. Who could possibly benefit enough to make this devastation worthwhile?
Sport is the lifeblood of rural areas and can bring communities together, your voice is much more powerful than any individual voice can be.
Yours in anticipation and hope,
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