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Irish company strikes gold with huge find

  • Story Highlights
  • Company finds what may be largest gold deposit found in Britain or Ireland
  • More than one million ounces of gold may lie below rolling Irish countryside
  • With price of gold near historic highs, find could be worth as much as $300m
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(CNN) -- A mining company has found what may be the largest gold deposit ever found in the British Isles, the company's chairman said Tuesday.

The price of gold is at historic highs, making new prospects very valuable.

The price of gold is at historic highs, making new prospects very valuable.

Drill samples indicate more than 1 million ounces of gold may lie below what is now rolling Irish countryside, said Richard Conroy, the chairman of Dublin, Ireland-based Conroy Diamonds and Gold.

With the price of gold near historic highs, the find could be worth as much as $300 million on the market, Conroy told CNN.

The company has been working for 10 years to find gold in a 1,500-square kilometer (600-square-mile) area spanning the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, he said. The site where the company found the gold is near Clontibret, a village in the northern part of Ireland, he said.

"I think it's a major development in Ireland that we now have a significant gold resource," Conroy said. "It's the largest amount of gold, the largest number of ounces, that's ever been reported in Ireland, or indeed in either Britain or Ireland."

The price of gold is currently around $900 an ounce on global commodities markets. Factoring in costs for mine construction and operation, Conroy said, the gold near Clontibret could fetch roughly $300 million.

The company now plans to do more drilling at the site and conduct feasibility studies before moving ahead, he said.

An analyst cautioned, however, that the reported amount of gold is still only an estimate.

"Until you've actually mined the stuff, there's always a moderate level of uncertainty," said William Tankard, a senior analyst at metals consultancy GFMS in London.

One million ounces, if confirmed, would be significant for both Conroy and Ireland, Tankard said. Ireland has small precious metal deposits but nothing as large as Conroy's reported find, Tankard said.

Conroy said only one gold mine is currently active in Ireland.

"By no means is it world-leading, but a million ounces is certainly worth thinking about," Tankard said.

Tankard added that the quality of the gold -- including grade and how concentrated it is -- will also affect its value.

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