Prospecting licences, what's the deal?

A017 OCTOBER 2020

What are prospecting licences? These are issued by the DFI and allow companies the right to look for precious minerals/metals- as denoted by the licence. The exploration/mining companies may undertake various methods to search for the metals/minerals- such as soil sampling, trenching, drilling, etc…

Is my home or farm covered by a prospecting licence? 
Click on the interactive map above to check if you are affected. It is highly probable that you are if you live in the Sperrins area of West Tyrone and South Derry. Or check interactive map here- link.

Does a prospecting licence mean that mining will take place here? 
Not exactly, it simply means that a company have an interest in searching within this area for metals/minerals. If a resource is discovered there could potentially be a mine there in the future- but it would have to go through the various permitting/permission stages. Mining and exploration companies would not go to the effort of aquiring a licence if they did not have a strong interest to exploit the area.

Can prospectors enter my land freely? 
No, despite having a valid licence to prospect- landowners permission is necessary. Unless permission has been expressed the prospectors are operating illegally, they are technically trespassing, and the removal of any samples could be considered as theft. Operating without permission on your land would also mean that the prospecting teams are not covered by insurance while on your property.

Can the prospectors force their way onto my land via police or courts? 
No. Unless the landowner grants permission, then they have no right to access the land. The prospectors have no legal right to enter the land, and the police or courts cannot help them. There have been a few cases where local landowners were threatened with court action, but this is purely a scare tactic. If any such threat is made, record it if possible, or get the details of the company representative.

I’ve found prospecting teams on my land- what should I do? 
Approach them and identify yourself as the landowner, and politely insist that they leave your land immediately. Get contact details and names of the prospecting team, take photographs of people and vehciles present, and record vehicle registrations. If they have taken any samples, ask them to return all samples immediately and restore the ground. If the they refuse to comply, contact the police immediately and explain the situation.

How can I prevent the prospecting teams from entering my land? 
This is difficult. If they want to do it then they usually will enter- with or without permission. Place signs at your gateway to inform them that they are not welcome, and keep a sharp look out if you live in an area covered by a prospecting licence.