Three underground mines are currently operating in Ireland, in Counties Meath (Tara), Tipperary (Lisheen), and Monaghan (Drummond). Two of the mines - Tara and Lisheen - produce zinc/lead concentrate, making Ireland the largest producer of zinc concentrate in the EU. A Lead Zinc mine in Kilkenny (Galmoy) was recently closed due to exhaustion of economic reserves.
Tara Mines in County Meath, now in operation for more than 30 years, is the third largest zinc mine in the world. Drummond Mine in County Monaghan is the newest mine and came on stream in 2005. It produces gypsum for use in the construction industry. Lisheen Mine is currently in its last year of production and closure of the mine is likely to commence in 2015.
About 1,100 people are employed in mining and the total annual monetary value of production for mining and quarrying is approximately €1billion of which about one third is contributed by metal mining.
Due to the complex nature of mining operations and the potential for multiple fatalities from major incidents - such as from fire below ground, inrush and collapse – we have specialist mining inspectors that carry out several inspections at each of the mines on an annual basis.