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Ireland Joins IGF as 71st Member, Commits to Sustainability in Mining

March 4, 2019

The Government of Ireland expressed its commitment to responsible governance of the mining sector by joining the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF). The IGF is a voluntary partnership that welcomes member states of the United Nations.

“We are pleased to welcome Ireland as the IGF’s 71st member state,” IGF Director Greg Radford said in a statement.

“IGF is pleased with the recent growth of its membership in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and now in Europe,” added Radford. “We look forward to the Government of Ireland’s contribution in our global dialogue about leveraging mining for poverty reduction, inclusive growth, social development and environmental stewardship.”

Seán Canney, Ireland’s Minister of State for Natural Resources (far right), and Greg Radford, Director, IGF (middle), during the membership signing ceremony at PDAC 2019 alongside Alexander Medina, Chair, IGF Executive Committee (far left).

“Ireland is delighted to become a member of the IGF,” said Mr Seán Canney, Ireland’s Minister of State for Natural Resources. “This unique forum provides a very valuable opportunity to engage with over 70 fellow member countries on a broad range of important policy issues such as development, environment, gender, mine closure and responsible supply chains. Through its membership, Ireland hopes to be able to share its own best practice policies and learn from the experience of others as we work together on ensuring that mining contributes fully in the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Ireland has a rich geology and a long history of mining with a proven track record in zinc and lead production. The country ranks as Europe’s third largest producer of zinc metal in concentrate and the 15th largest producer in the world. In addition, Ireland is Europe’s 7th largest producer of lead metal in concentrate and 24th in the world. It has a very active prospecting sector with over 600 current prospecting licences and over 40 companies active in the area. In addition to lead and zinc, the country has also been identified as a source of barium, copper, gold, lithium, molybdenum and silver, as well as platinum group metals.

Ireland recognizes the challenges and contributions of sustainable management of metal and mineral resources for achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Its mining policies reflect this recognition, for example in its development of a “best practice” approach to mine closure.

In the last number of years, the closure of two mines at Galmoy and Lisheen has been successfully managed under new closure plan requirements. The two sites have improved the biodiversity of the area and have attracted other business onto the site. This is important for employment in these rural areas. Mining and post-mining can contribute positively to a locality while at the same time providing the necessary raw materials for society as a whole. The Galmoy mine was awarded the Green Apple award for their Tailings Management Facility remediation.

As a mining jurisdiction, Ireland has consistently been highly placed in the Fraser Institute Annual Survey of Mining Companies. The country’s attractiveness as a destination for mining sector investment is enhanced by a number of factors, including modern mining and environmental legislation, an educated and skilled workforce, experienced regulators, a stable democratic government and EU membership.

Team members from the Government of Ireland and IGF after the signing ceremony at PDAC 2019.

Ireland’s exploration and mining legislation was recently updated with the enactment of the Minerals Development Act 2017. This legislation provides a robust, modern and transparent regulatory framework aimed at ensuring that all exploration and mining activities take place in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner. Work on implementing the detail of this new framework has progressed well, with a focus on ensuring the development of clear and transparent terms and conditions and associated application and licensing processes. Ireland is active in the area of responsible supply chains and is currently engaging with the other EU member states and the EU Commission on the necessary preparations for implementing the EU Regulation of responsible sourcing of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG).

“Ireland has committed to fully achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals domestically by 2030 and to supporting their implementation globally,” added Minister Canney. “And we see our involvement with the IGF and its member countries as an important element in helping to ensure that our exploration and mining sector is optimally positioned to help deliver on this ambition.” 

The IGF supports more than 70 nations committed to leveraging mining for sustainable development to ensure that negative impacts are limited and financial benefits are shared. It is devoted to optimizing the benefits of mining to achieve poverty reduction, inclusive growth, social development and environmental stewardship. The International Institute for Sustainable Development has served as Secretariat for the IGF since October 2015. Core funding is provided by the Government of Canada.

For more information please contact Stacy Corneau, Media and Communications Officer, IISD, at or 613 – 238 – 2296 ext 103.