Boliden, the Swedish owner of Tara Mines in Co Meath, is to invest €44 million in the site after identifying new mineral resources and deciding to expand the mine’s tailing dam.
The mine, which is just outside Navan, is Europe’s largest, and the world’s ninth largest zinc mine. It currently employs over 600. Production at Tara Mines began in 1977, and since then more than 80 million tonnes of ore have been mined.
Boliden Mines said a recent exploration has resulted in the discovery of a new mineralisation Tara Deep. An extension of the capacity of the tailings dam, which currently limits Tara’s lifespan, has also been decided.
The new tailings dam will have sufficient capacity for production at current levels until 2026, Boliden said.
The company’s planned investment totals €33 million, and is conditional upon obtaining official permits. The investment is based on mining until at least 2023, although the company said the new mineral resources may lead it to extend the life of the mine further.
Boliden said the construction of an exploration drift to the new deposit at a cost of €11 million had also been approved.
“Tara’s exploration work in the last few years has been successful, and the capacity of the tailings dam is now limiting the life of mine to 2020. New exploration successes, increased productivity, and high zinc prices make extending the mine’s lifespan a profitable option, so we have decided to expand the tailings dam with a capacity until 2026,” said Mikael Staffas, president of Boliden.
The new Tara Deep deposit has inferred mineral resources totalling 10 million tonnes with a zinc grade of 8l5 per cent and a lead grade of 1.8 per cent. The mineralisation resembles Tara’s main ore body, but has a more complicated structure and is at a greater depth of between 1,200m and 1,900m, Boliden said.
Recently-filed accounts from Tara Mines Holdings and subsidiaries show turnover declined by 17.3 per cent in 2015 to €155.3 million from €187.8 million a year earlier. The company reported a €65,000 pretax loss, versus a €6.2 million profit a year earlier.
Production at the mine for 2015 was 2.2 million tonnes of ore, down from 2.3 million tonnes a year earlier.