By Geoff Percival
Two of John Teeling’s mining companies are looking for development partners for Irish-based assets, but the veteran businessman has warned Ireland is becoming less welcoming to potential international resource investors.
Gold and zinc prospector Connemara Mining is considering the option of bringing in development partners for its Donegal and Wicklow/Wexford gold projects, as well as its Derrykearn zinc prospect in Co Laois.
Speaking on the back of the company’s annual results, which showed losses widening from €195,584 to €214,331, Connemara chief executive Patrick Cullen said while no deal is imminent the option remains under review.
“One of our strategies is to add value to our 100%-owned licences and make them more attractive to investment partners,” he said.
Connemara holds 20 gold licences and 41 zinc ones in Ireland across various prospect blocks and partners Canadian resource companies Teck and Group Eleven on a number of assets. It has also curtailed a 10-hole drilling campaign at its Mine River block in Wicklow and Wexford, to six holes, due to access problems, but remains hopeful on drilling results.
Meanwhile, Petrel Resources is also eyeing additional partners in Ireland and an expansion of its international presence, which currently covers offshore Ireland, Ghana and Iraq.
The oil and gas company has four licences in Irish waters, but Australian exploration company Woodside Energy pulled out of its joint venture agreement on two of them in 2016. Petrel said that if it can agree with the Irish Government to extend one of its frontier exploration licences, it will bid for a farm-in partner.
“We believe that the ground has potential, not recognised by Woodside, and that we can bring in a partner,” the company said.
However, Mr Teeling also warned that exploration companies may be growing nervous about investing in Ireland.
“Unfortunately there is growing political uncertainty in Ireland in relation to resources. Oil exploration dollars are nomadic. They will go where they are welcome. Ireland is no longer welcoming. A ban on onshore fracking and a bill to outlaw new offshore oil exploration licences, currently in the Dáil, sends out bad messages. Combine these with the increases in taxation and royalties, introduced in 2015, and you have a toxic cocktail,” he said.
Petrel’s operating losses last year jumped from €257,675 to €4.39m and Mr Teeling said the company needs to “reassess our strategy” and will “dip our toe into opportunities in the Middle East”.