Potential mining at Baronscourt, Co.Tyrone, Mount Castle Trust (MCT)

N053 NOVEMBER 2021

It has been discovered that an application to prospect for barite at Baronscourt, near Newtownstewart was made to Derry and Strabane District council last year. (October 13th 2020)
The prospecting work involked Mount Castle Trust’s (MCT) permitted development right for mineral exploration under it’s Mineral Prospecting Licence MCT1/16.
In 2016 the Department of Finance granted a prospecting licence to MCT for 9,415 hectares (36.4 square miles)
MCT were planning to take a sample programme within this area with the view to investigate and evaluate the extent and commercial potential of it’s barite deposits within its mineral prospecting licences.  The plan was to conduct a series of mini-sample boreholes across eight areas to obtain further geological information within the area.
These sample areas are in two groups- the first group of 4 sites is at Tamnagh Wood, near the Baronscourt Church of Ireland, Byturn Road/Baronscourt Road, and the second cluster of sites is  at Manus Wood, near Cashty/Cloonty.

See interactive map opposite for location of the sites at Tamnagh Wood and Manus Wood, Cashty.
The red boundary marks the limits of the MCT/16 prospecting licence.
The smaller shaded red rectangles show the eight areas where sampling  was being planned.

What are your thoughts on this?  Please leave your comments in the post in the blog section.

What is Barite?

  • Barite (sometimes called Baryte) is a naturally occurring, environmentally friendly mineral.
  • Barite is insoluble in water and acid, chemically and physically non-reactive, non-toxic and non-magnetic.
  • Barite (derived from the Greek word ‘barus’ meaning heavy) is a heavy mineral (density of 4.5 g/cm3), moderately soft {3-3.5 Moh’s Scale of hardness) and found in a variety of colours. High quality Barite is white in colour, with a high brightness / whiteness factor and free of impurities.

What is barite used for?

Due to its high density and chemical inertness, Barite is widely used in many everyday applications. Historically, Barite was used for the production of barium hydroxide for sugar refining and as white pigment for textiles, paper and paint. Today high quality barite is used in everyday products such as cosmetics, electronic circuit boards in mobile phones, specialist rubber, glass ceramics, clutch and brake pads, LED glass for television and computer monitors, sound suppression and much, much more.

Who are Mount Castle Trust?
(Company brief submitted to Derry and Strabane Council)

The Mount Castle Trust was created by the present (5th) Duke of Abercorn in 1985 to hold the Baronscourt Estate together with additional rural property in Argyll, Fife and the Scottish Borders.
The present trustees are Robert Scott, FRICS, who was the Estate Manager from 1977 until 2013, and Ian Huddleston, a partner in Pinsent Masons, solicitors.
Baronscourt Estate is the home of the Duke and his family, extending to approximately 5,500 acres as follows:
4,000 acres of woodlands
1,000 acres of farmland
270 acres of heather moorland
130 acres of water (3 lakes), and
100 acres of golf course

Included in these areas are Cashty Quarry, a disused hard stone quarry that operated for most of the last century but was closed by the current tenant because the local availability of stone exceeded the market demand; and an exhausted sand and gravel quarry at Woodhills, close to the junction of
Baronscourt Road with Drumlegagh Road North.
The property in Fife includes another sand and gravel quarry extending to approximately 200 acres that became exhausted in 2011.
The Estate is presently investigating the possibility of opening up a new hard stone quarry near Dunoon Argyll.
Reference is made to these quarries to demonstrate our experience in exploiting mineral deposits.
In addition to the traditional rural Estate assets of farms, forests, houses and cottages, the Estate includes three radio masts and a wind farm, and the Duke’s elder son, the Marquess of Hamilton, has a particular interest in renewable energy; as a result a number of small-scale solar (photovoltaic)
panels have been installed, the Mansion House at Barons Court is heated with home-produced wood chips, and two micro-hydro schemes are presently being worked up.
The Mount Castle Trust has recently entered into a partnership (The Abercorn Estates Partnership) with five other Abercorn family trusts, the Duke, the Duchess and the Marquess, to simplify a complex business model and develop a more corporate structure with just one bottom line.
Day-to-day management responsibility for the Estate is vested in Matthew Stuart MRICS, FAAV.
In conclusion, this is a progressively-managed rural business with diverse interests in Scotland and Northern Ireland that now wants to identify and evaluate the extent and commercial potential of its non-precious metal deposits.

Baronscourt Church/ Tamnagh Wood site
A sample of barite