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Dublin: 18°C Wednesday 23 June 2021

There's a lot more gold in Irish rivers than we thought

And there’s plenty of platinum too.

shutterstock_257744101 File photo Source: Shutterstock/optimarc

THERE IS MORE gold and platinum in rivers and streams in the southeast of Ireland than previously thought.

The Geological Survey of Ireland’s (GSI) Tellus programme made the discovery by applying modern testing methods to stream samples collected in the 1980s.

The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources said the most notable levels of platinum were found mainly in the area to the southeast of Aughrim and Tinahely on the Wicklow-Wexford border.

Rarer than gold, the department said the discovery of platinum is of particular interest as it has “never before been analysed in stream sediment from this region”.

As well as being a popular choice for jewellery, platinum has a significant industrial use in electronics, medical applications, and catalytic converters in cars.

StreamSediment_Pt_media_low_Low_res Source: Tellus

High levels of gold in streams near the Goldmines River and Avoca regions of Wicklow were re-confirmed, and the new data identifies high gold values in streams that flow across and along the edges of the Leinster granite, an area long thought to be a source for the gold mineralisation.

High gold values in streams have also been identified in the Dungarvan and Stradbally ares of county Waterford, thought to be sourced from 450 million-year-old volcanic rocks in the area – which is sometimes dubbed the ‘gold coast’.

The data from the Tellus survey also highlights a broad zone of gold in county Wicklow, north of the Sugar Loaf region where only small traces of the precious metal have been found previously.

StreamSediment_Au_media_low_res1 Source: Tellus

The department said it is hoped the new information, along with additional data from samples due to be released later this year, will “offer a fresh perspective of Ireland’s natural resources with the scope for further exploration attracting additional inward investment”.

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Mine closures 

Koen Verbruggen, GSI director, said the contribution of the mining and mineral exploration to the Irish economy has been “considerable over the past five decades”.

The industry is currently suffering from a major global downturn due to low commodity prices, which coupled with a scarcity of recent economically-significant discoveries has seen Ireland’s indigenous production of metals retreat with the closure of a number of mines.

Geologist Ray Scanlon said the Tellus programme “continues to reveal fascinating and previously unknown details of Ireland’s natural resources”.

This type of geological information and understanding is vital not only for economic reasons but also for environmental, health and agricultural planning.

Tellus aims to have surveyed 50% of the country by the end of 2017, and has plans to complete national surveying in the coming years.

More information on the project can be found here.

Read: Enda Kenny says people should keep paying their water charges

Read: Fascinating statistics compare modern-day Ireland to the country in 1916

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Órla Ryan

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