By Pat Flynn and Geoff Percival
A Toronto-listed mineral exploration company has confirmed plans for a major drilling programme in Co Clare.
Hannan Metals plans to test geological, seismic and soil targets on its Kilbricken zinc-lead-silver prospect near Ennis as well as other prospects in the group’s extensive licence area in the county.
The company’s Clare project consists of seven prospecting licences and two licence applications for a total of 32,223 hectares.
The programme, which is currently being finalised, will involve 20,000 metres of drilling and is a major expansion of the company's exploration.
Hannan's immediate focus is on expanding the Kilbricken resource and testing seven significant geochemical targets within a 12km previously untested trend within the licence area.
The work follows a successful 2017 programme when a maiden resource estimate of 4.4 million tonnes at 8.6% zinc equivalent at Kilbricken was established.
Meanwhile, shares in Irish onshore exploration company Falcon Oil and Gas rose by nearly 10%, before paring back, on rising expectations that a temporary drilling ban in Australia may be lifted next month.
Falcon owns a 30% stake in the much-hyped Beetaloo Basin shale gas field in Australia's Northern Territory, where there has been a halt on fracking - or hydraulic fracturing - methods in onshore drilling for the past 15 months.
The final findings of an independent report, published yesterday, have stuck with its initial thoughts - namely, that while risks remain, they can be reduced if recommendations are implemented. These include increased transparency and better regulation, the implementation of new technologies and top engineering standards and the completion of a strategic regional environmental and baseline assessment (SREBA).
"It is the panel's opinion that, provided that all of the recommendations made in this report are adopted and implemented in their entirety, not only should the risks associated with an onshore shale gas industry be minimised to an acceptable level, in some instances, they can be avoided altogether," the report said.
The report was commissioned by the local government, which has already said it will act in accordance with its findings. Thus, while the government still has to formally lift the moratorium it is expected to do so in April.