Lignite is excluded from Licences

BALLYMONEY Borough Council has expressed concerns over new Mineral Prospecting Licences for Lonmin (NI) Ltd.

During a recent Development Committee meeting, councillors heard that the Licenses would ‘allow the licensee to carry out exploration in search of all minerals vested in the Department.’

However the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment responded to members questions about the exception of lignite which ‘is specifically excluded from all MPLs’.

The report explained: ‘The Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment has responded to Council’s concerns on the Mineral Prospecting Licences for Lonmin (NI) Ltd.

‘The Department reassure Council that the licenses are Mineral Prospecting Licenses (MPLs) and will allow the licensee to carry out exploration in search of all minerals vested in the Department, as set out in the Mineral Development Act (NI) 1969, with the exception of lignite which is specifically excluded from all MPLs.

‘It apologises for not having pointed this out in the original letter. The Department notes the opposition by Council to the award of the MPLs and the local communities’ concerns to open cast mining.

‘It points out however that there are no plans for open cast mining in the area. MLP holders are encouraged by the Department to engage fully with the local communities in which they are carrying out their exploration activities.’