Mining company begins underground testing near Offaly village

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


Mining company begins underground testing near Offaly village

Mining company begins underground testing near Offaly village

The company behind Tara Mines in Navan is conducting a seismic survey around the village of Rhode this week. 

The survey is being carried out on behalf of Boliden Tara Mines and Teck Ireland Limited as part of their 'mineral exploration programme.' It is to take place between the areas of Rhode, Castlejordan and Daingean for 10 days, starting on October 15.

Seismic surveys map certain underground structures that may create a mineral deposit. The survey in Offaly is taking place on public roads and has been planned to minimise the disturbance to residents and the environment, according to a statement.

Speaking to the Offaly Express this week, a spokesperson for Teck Ireland said, "the planned surveys will produce geological data as part of an ongoing exploration programme. The surveys follow similar surveys carried out in the area in recent years.

Probed on the ultimate aim of the surveys in terms of future development, the spokesperson insisted, "we have no current plans for the area beyond these early-stage exploration activities."

The most visible element of the survey will be so-called “Vibe trucks” driving along the roads and stopping every few metres for a minute or so.

Residents may also notice small geophones planted in the ground at the side of the road connected to cables. The cables will cross some roads and driveways but can be safely driven over.

The tests work much like the way echo sounding is used by fishermen to locate fish or medical ultra-sound scanning. Seismic surveys use sound vibrations to detect features beneath the ground surface. A convoy of up to three specialised vehicles
or “Vibe trucks” will be used to generate the sound waves.

The sound waves travel into the earth and are reflected back to the surface from each of the numerous geological layers like an echo. On the surface the faint echoes are detected by the sensors and cables laid along the survey route, a central recording truck will be parked along the survey route.

The recorded signals are analysed using powerful computers to produce images of the underlying geological layers. They will show up results from approximately 2km below the surface of the road. 

Boliden Tara Mines states on its websites that it carries out exploration into the possible suitable of certain areas to the practice of mining. For more than 90 years, they have been exploring, extracting and processing base metals and precious metals around the world, including Tara Mines in Navan.

Their exploration practice sees them selecting an area, carrying out initial regional investigations, local investigations and test drilling. "We use various geological theories and models and interpret the collected material using multidimensional software," they say.

"If the deposit meets profitability requirements on the basis of volume and metal content, more studies are conducted regarding geological, environmental, technological and financial aspects. Not before then can mining come into the question."

"It may take between five and 10, and sometimes up to 20 years from the first geological survey before mining operations begin," they continued. 

Both Boliden Tara Mines and Teck Ireland Limited apoligise for any inconvenience caused. More information can be found on their websites.