The Minerals Developments Act was passed at the beginning of the Second World War. There was a concern about the availability of resources. This is reflected in the principle of compulsory acquisition for unworked mines and minerals.
The Slievardagh Coal Development Act 1941 and the Minerals Exploration and Development Act provided for the setting up of a State mining company, y to prospect for mines and process and market materials.
The wartime shortage of sulphur led the company to seek this mineral near Avoca. Between 1942 and 1947, 16,000 tons was produced for sulphuric acid industry. After the war, the public sector withdrew from mine explorations.
It proved difficult to establish n the necessary incentives. Incentives in the form of exemption from tax for four years followed by 50 percent tax referred to four years was granted under the Finance (Profit of Certain Mines) (Temporary Relief from Taxation) Act 1956 .
The 1967 Finance Act extended the exemption for profits to 20 year period. This decision was criticised by the NESC in its 1981 review of minerals policy.
The potential for pyrite and copper ore near Glendalough was explored by the State-owned mining company, Mianraí Teoranta, which led to the establishment of large, low-grade ore reserves in 1956 A Canadian company Mogul Mining Corporation of Canada developed the ore body of low grade copper ore in Avoca. Production lasted from 1958 to 1962 This company was forced, by falling ore grades and metal prices, to close in 1962.
A number of Canadian companies started exploration in the mid-1950. Irish Base Metals Limited initiated an exploration programme in Ireland concentrating on carbon or ferrous sediments in Clare and Galway. The biggest breakthrough came at our rich lead zinc ore find in Tynagh county Galway. In 1961 prospecting licences were issued for further area
By the early 1960s mid-1960s prospecting licence had been granted for total of 1900 square miles. A 12 million ton of ore find of high zinc and lead content was found at Silvermines, Nenagh County Tipperary by Mogul of Ireland.
In 1970 Tara Exploration and Development Company with common shareholders with the Northgate exploration group, a Canadian entity discovered the largest zinc deposit in Western Europe near Navan County Meath.
large deposits have been extracted from mines in Navan, Galmoy and Lisheen. The mines in Galmoy in Co. Kilkenny and Lisheen in Co. Tipperary have ceased production in recent years but Tara Mines in Co. Meath is still in operation. At its peak Ireland was the largest producer of Zinc in Europe and the second largest producer of lead.
In addition to the metal mining Ireland also has a strong rock and mineral extraction industry. Limestone is widely quarried across the country for use in the construction industry, gypsum for use in plasterboard is currently being extracted from a site in Co. Cavan and the mineral dolomite is being extracted from a site in Co. Kilkenny for use in construction aggregates.
Tara Exploration and Development Company
Three underground mines are currently operating in Ireland, in Counties Meath (Tara), Tipperary (Lisheen), and Monaghan (Drummond). Two of the mines – Tara and Lisheen – produce zinc/lead concentrate, making Ireland the largest producer of zinc concentrate in the EU.
A Lead Zinc mine in Kilkenny (Galmoy) was recently closed due to exhaustion of economic reserves. Drummond produces Gypsum for the Construction and Construction Products industries Tara Mines in County Meath, now in operation for more than 30 years, is the third largest zinc mine in the world.
Drummond Mine in County Monaghan is the newest mine and came on stream in 2005. Lisheen Mine is currently in its last year of production and closure of the mine is likely to commence in 2015.