More gold and platinum in county than previously thought


Published 09/03/2016 | 00:00

Tellus stream sedimentary platinum geochemistry in Wexford and Wicklow.
Tellus stream sedimentary platinum geochemistry in Wexford and Wicklow.

there is more platinum, gold and precious metals in the south east's streams and rivers than previously believed, with notable levels on the borders of Wexford and Wicklow.

By applying modern testing methods to stream samples collected in the 1980s, the Geological Survey of Ireland's Tellus Programme has discovered the highest levels of platinum are found mainly in the area to the southeast of the towns of Aughrim and Tinahely.

Rarer than gold, 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 premier choice for jewellery, platinum has a significant industrial use in electronics, medical applications and in catalytic converters in cars.

As well as reconfirming high levels of gold in streams near the Goldmines River and Avoca regions of Wicklow, the new data identifies high gold values in streams that flow across and along the edges of the Leinster granite, a complex area long thought to be a source for the gold mineralisation in the region. High gold values in streams have also been identified in County Waterford, in the Dungarvan to Stradbally area, locally known as the 'Gold Coast' and is thought to be sourced from 450 million-year-old volcanic rocks in the area.

The recently re-analysed data from the Tellus Survey team 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. It is hoped that this new data, 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. 'The mining and mineral exploration industry's contribution to the Irish economy has been considerable over the past five decades,' said Director of the Geological Survey of Ireland, Koen Verbruggen. '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. A core strategy of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and that of the Geological Survey of Ireland is to support investment and development of this important industry by producing high-quality openly available geological information to identify new areas for exploration. 'I am pleased to see the latest Tellus data highlighting new insights, and opening new possible opportunities for investment into our underexplored country,' he said. Ray Scanlon, Principal Geologist at the Geological Survey of Ireland's Tellus Programme, said that the resulting maps detailing the natural variability of precious metals across this region show how Ireland is largely underexplored for a variety of precious metals and critical raw materials. 'The Tellus geochemistry programme, which is underway across the country, 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 per cent of the country by the end of 2017 and has plans to complete national surveying in the coming years. A geochemical sampling survey will be undertaken with a team of agricultural scientists gathering stream samples across the West, Midlands and East over the next two years. The Tellus Programme also includes an airborne survey which will be active in the Waterford region later this spring and Galway later in the year. The new geochemical data for south east Ireland and all previous phases of the Tellus Survey are available, free of charge, to view and download at The new data was showcased at a major international convention, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) in Toronto yesterday (March 7).

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