Minister for Natural Resources, Conor Lenihan, has opened an international conference on zinc exploration and development in Cork today.
The conference, organised by the Irish Association for Economic Geology, acknowledges the importance of zinc to modern living and the importance of Ireland in the world of zinc production.
Ireland ranks among the top ten world producers of zinc in concentrate and is number one in Europe, with the largest zinc mine in Europe operating for over 20 years at Navan, Co. Meath.
Mr Lenihan said: "Zinc is an important commodity to society. Its uses are wide and varied, from the automobile and construction industries to the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Ireland plays its part in supplying zinc to a global market."
In addition to the contribution of zinc production to the national and local economies, the minister will also pay tribute to the role of Irish geologists in understanding the formation of zinc deposits.
He said: "Ireland has its own particular deposit type which, not surprisingly, is known as the Irish Type Deposit.
"Recognising the particular characteristics of these deposits is important in exploration and this information is now used by many companies in their search for Irish Type Deposits world wide."