Founded in 1973, the Irish Association for Economic Geology (IAEG) is a a relatively small voluntary collective of geoscientists focussed on exploring and understanding the nature of Ireland’s minerals. It has consistently produced an extensive collection of scientific and technical papers on the genesis and geological characteristics of Irish mineral deposits, adding to our ability to locate and develop new resources.
Ireland enjoys a rich endowment of base metal deposits with seven mines developed since the 1960’s; five of these have been zinc and lead mines. IAEG members have been to the forefront in studying and understanding these and other mineral deposits, leading to the discovery of significant new resources e.g. the 27 Million tonne Tara Deep deposit which lies c 3 km form the existing Tara Mines site in Co Meath.
The supply chain for these mines has seen the development of several Irish consultancies and specialist contractors, many of which have gone on to develop significant business overseas. Examples include Aurum Exploration, BRG, CSA and SLR which design and develop exploration projects worldwide; QME a mining contractor active in the UK and Portugal and PW Mining active throughout Africa. Others include ALS which took over OMAC Laboratories; Priority Drilling and Irish Drilling, which along with OMAC were largely the result of the Tynagh Mine in Co Galway.
The development of this supply chain has contributed significant added value to the mining sector, as demonstrated in the Indecon Review of the Geoscience Ireland (GI) Programme which indicates that GI companies generate c €400M per annum from overseas projects. In addition, many Irish geoscientists have formed mineral exploration and mining ventures operating in Ireland and overseas and provide many leading researchers for the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience iCRAG .
Commenting on the IAEG, GI Director Sean Finlay said;
“The most recent IAEG event in Galway celebrated its 50th year with a conference on Irish Type Zinc Lead Deposits Around the World and which heard speakers outline how Irish zinc deposits now have recognisable analogues across the globe. The IAEG is a truly remarkable example of a collective dedicated to the provision of excellent geoscientific research. Congratulations to IAEG President Ally Barrow and the Organising Committee on the Conference and its related publication.”