The North West Business Awards organisers, the City Centre Initiative, is to meet councillors who have called for gold miner Dalradian to be dropped as event sponsor.
CCI said it would meet representatives who have called for Dalradian to be cancelled as ‘Best NW Large Business’ sponsor, due to its prospecting plans in the Sperrins.
Dalradian, meanwhile, has insisted its operations in the North West will be safe and will generate hundreds of jobs. It said it was sponsoring the NWBA because it wanted to support local businesses.
Independent Councillor Gary Donnelly, among the representatives to have criticised Dalradian’s involvement, said: “I have been contacted by environmental and community activists that Dalradian gold mining is sponsoring a category in this event. I have contacted council to see if this contravenes council’s position.”
He was referring to a motion passed in January that confirmed the local council’s opposition to “plans to develop a gold mine and processing plant in the Sperrins.”
People Before Profit Alliance’s Councillors Eamonn McCann and Shaun Harkin said: “For the council to associate itself with this company contradicts its own policy of opposing mining activities with a potential to ravage our scenery and pollute our land and water.
“We do not believe that council officials should be directly involved in promotion of this scheme when, in practice, this means promoting Dalradian.”
Dalradian, however, said it wanted to recognise successful businesses and entrepreneurship in the North West.
A spokesperson for the company told the Journal: “Our proposed underground gold-silver mine will create 350 full time jobs with an average salary of £40,000.
“We are a high wage company, prioritising local employment which will help address higher than average unemployment rates across the North West, in line with the aims of the Programme for Government.
“Through supply chain benefits Dalradian will create 1,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs and supports a £750bn-plus spend over 20-25 years. The region is already home to an extensive engineering sector supplying the global mining and extraction industries and our project is a natural extension of this important local employer.”
The company has also insisted that its operation in the Sperrins will be “a safe project which will bring economic and social benefits to the local community.”
A CCI spokesperson said: “CCI have agreed to meet with a number of elected representatives from Derry City and Strabane District Council to discuss their concerns regarding Dalradian’s sponsorship of a category at this year’s NW Business Awards.”
DC&SDC, the overall sponsor of the gala cermony in June, meanwhile, said it was supporting the event to promote local business.
A DC&SDC spokesman said: “Council is committed to encouraging and supporting local entrepreneurship and enterprise and these awards provide an opportunity to acknowledge and promote the fantastic achievements of our local businesses.”