“We took the reasoned judgement to get cracking,” says Roland Phelps. “It was the right decision and we’ve forged ahead with development.”
Some would say that it was a calculated risk for Galantas Gold Corporation (LON:GAL, CVE:GAL)) to press on with underground development work at its Omagh gold mine in Northern Ireland while a judicial review was pending.
But Phelps was always quietly confident that the legal system would deliver a result in Galantas’ favour, and so it proved.
Even now, he’s not shouting it from the rooftops – no hint of triumphalism here, because the really important work can now begin to gather real momentum: that of building a mine.
Since late spring, Galantas has been pushing a spiral decline down into the ground at Omagh beneath the crown pillar below the open pit that’s now mined out.
Phelps has rate of advance estimates on his desk even now, although he wants firm confirmation before he puts a detailed update out.
And now that the judicial review is all but over he can think about getting some better kit in too.
“We purchased some used equipment at very modest cost,” he concedes. That kit has actually worked out really well and performed above expectations.
But nevertheless, with the company now almost completely clear of judicial uncertainty, there may now be areas where further investment makes sense.
“There’s no doubt the judicial review has moderated our progress as we haven’t invested in more productive equipment,” adds Phelps.
That will now change, and the plan is to complete the decline in double-quick time and to finish up in ore.
On the way the company will probably intersect a second outlying special vein to follow on from the first, which returned results of between 1.1 and 11 grams per tonne from grab samples.
The first of these will likely produce economic ore within a matter of months, with the second following on shortly after.
That will then be followed by the main event, as Galantas re-connects with the Kearney vein that has already proved so rich to mine at surface.
And there’s more to Kearney that meets the eye.
“The Kearney vein is actually a series of parallel veins,” says Phelps. “And we’ll be working into each of these.”
Previous issues with the Police Service of Northern Ireland have now been patched up, and in all probability had more to do with another company’s unpaid debts to the police than anything specific to the Omagh project.
But be that as it may, Phelps has no hesitation in referring to the company’s relationship with the police as “great.”
So will Galantas shortly be able to count itself among the producers again?
“I’m very optimistic about this,” says Phelps.
And when all’s said and done, it’s quite a thing he’s talking about: Omagh will be the first underground gold mine of any scale anywhere in Ireland.
That’s certainly something to be proud of, and at that point maybe Phelps will indeed feel comfortable shouting from the rooftops.
Watch this space.