13 February 2012

National Park Secures ‘Gold Standard’ For Cononish Mine With £2m Package

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park has negotiated a £2m financial package with Scotgold Resources Limited, the company behind the Cononish gold mine, which will now allow the development to proceed. Planning permission was approved by the National Park Board in October 2011 for a 10 year underground gold mine facility near Tyndrum, subject to a number of legal obligations being secured. The National Park planning team has worked hard over the last three months to secure legal and financial agreements in order for Scotgold to start work this coming summer as planned. The financial package secured through a Section 75 legal agreement includes three bonds totaling £1.3m. The bonds will allow the National Park to enter and restore the site to an agreed standard at any stage of the development should the operator fail to meet defined obligations or abandon the site.

The bonds include £950K to restore the landscape of the mine site, £160K for mining waste management and £222K towards The Greater Cononish Glen Management Plan, a 30-year native woodland regeneration project. The financial agreement also includes a commitment from the developer to contribute £325K towards other conservation and visitor projects in the National Park over the period of the mine. In addition contributions have been agreed from the developer towards the ongoing monitoring of the site by the National Park. A further pledge to donate £150K to Strathfillan Community Development Trust (SCDT) has been made by the developer and they have also agreed to donate a sum of £200K to SCDT as a contribution towards the development of a mining exhibition and interpretative facility.

Speaking about the financial agreements in place, Gordon Watson, Director of Planning and Rural Development for the National Park said:

“Although the National Park Authority approved the planning application last year, we had to secure the legal commitments to guarantee mitigation of any adverse environmental impacts the development could have on the landscape as well as contributions to local environmental and tourism projects. I’m extremely proud of the work we have achieved in a relatively short timeframe which has also met Scotgold’s aim to start the development this summer. We have negotiated with Scotgold to make sure there are wider social and economic benefits for the surrounding communities. At the same time, we have established funding and guarantees that will deliver successful restoration and conservation of the landscape during and after the life of the mine.

“This is a great example of how business can work with the public sector to facilitate a number of economic and environmental benefits ensuring the Park fully capitalises on the opportunities from the mine.

“Cononish will be the only operational gold mine in Scotland. By making sure all aspects of the design, operation and decommissioning are carefully managed, we believe we have achieved a best practice standard which should set a benchmark for future sustainable mining developments in sensitive rural areas. We look forward to a continued partnership between the National Park and Scotgold throughout the life of the gold mine and the restoration of Glen Cononish.”

Environment Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

“It’s great to hear that Scotland's first goldmine will be getting underway this summer in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. I commend the Park Authority for working so constructively together with the developer through this complex planning process and achieving such a good result.

‪‪“This new investment for Scotland will bring welcome additional revenue to support the National Park, whilst enhancing the sensitive environment in Cononish Glen in the long term. This exciting venture will also offer a welcome boost to the Scottish economy, worth a projected £80 million, while 52 new jobs will be created.”‪

An initial application from Scotgold Resources Limited was refused in 2010. National Park specialists in landscape, planning and ecology worked closely with the developer to offer solutions mainly associated with the size and shape of the tailings management facility (TMF)and its successful restoration. The second application halved the size of the TMF with a redesigned shape to fit the landscape and significant amounts of mining waste being deposited back underground. The application also included a 30 year commitment to enhance the wider Glen Cononish through native tree planting and other landscape and habitat improvements.

The approved application has over 60 conditions attached. The planning decision notice was issued after legal agreements were finalised.

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