Wednesday, 1 December 2021
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
In my initial response, I outlined the number of contacts between the different State agencies and the mining operators. I will convey the Deputy's request to the Minister with responsibility for the OPW that the OPW make contact with the mining operator to see if any assistance can be offered.
There is robust legislation and regulation in place to ensure that mining in this State operates to the highest standard. Environmental enforcement activities are carried out by the EPA through inspections, audits and emissions monitoring. Inspectors assess the results of emissions monitoring carried out at licensed facilities to determine the impact, if any, of the emissions on the environment. Officials from the GSRO in the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications also monitor mining operations. Inspections of each of the main State mining facilities are undertaken by specialist mine inspectors to ensure that they are compliant with the terms of their mining leases or licences.
Ireland still maintains significant status for zinc production in Europe due to operations at the Navan mine, the largest underground zinc mine in Europe and by far the most significant mining facility in the State. Approximately 600 people are directly employed at the mine, along with additional contract staff, as outlined by the Deputy. The mine is also important in terms of supplying the raw materials we need for our future solar and wind energy, as well as batteries required to decarbonise our energy systems.
As stated, it is not possible to say when the mine will become operational again but the relevant regulatory authorities, including the GSRO, the EPA, Meath County Council and the Health and Safety Authority continue to monitor the situation closely and to liaise with the company.