The widespread carbonate succession in Ireland plays host to one of the great orefields of the world, the Central Ireland Basin Mineral Province.
Ireland is the largest producer of zinc concentrates in Europe and ranks as the 10th largest producer of zinc concentrates in the world, having three operating underground Zn-Pb mines, Navan, Lisheen and Galmoy. Annual total production from these three mines has been in the order of 400,000 tonnes of zinc concentrate and 50,000 tonnes of lead concentrate. Together, the three mines account for almost 32% of European zinc and 11% of lead production. The mines produce concentrates, all of which are exported for smelting. Known carbonate-hosted deposits contain some 11 Mt of zinc metal, approximately 1.5% of world zinc found to date.
Since 1960, 14 significant (resource >1 Mt) zinc-lead deposits have been discovered, including the world class orebody at Navan (>90 Mt). Ireland is ranked first in the world in terms of zinc discovered per square kilometre, and second in the world with respect to lead. The high grade, shallow occurrence and clean metallurgy of the orebodies, all result in a relatively low cost of mining for the “Irish-type” Zn-Pb deposits. Check out Deposit Statistics Table.
Some of the new areas such as those offered by the Irish Government to IMC Exploration have had little or no previous exploration and offer the potential for further new discoveries such as those recently discovered in County Clare and County Limerick. All modern discoveries have been at shallow levels (< 400 m), suggesting that deeper deposits could remain undiscovered.