Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Navan Mine.

109.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if, in the light of new discoveries at the Navan mine, County Meath, he will consider reviewing the present agreement with the mining companies concerned.

I take it that the Deputy is referring to the lead/zinc discovery near Navan by Tara Exploration and Development Company Limited.

This company are the holders of two prospecting licences authorising the company to search for minerals in a number of townlands in the Navan area. In accordance with the powers conferred on me by section 13 of the Minerals Development Act, 1940, I have given an undertaking to grant a State mining lease to the company in respect of State owned minerals in 13 townlands and four part townlands covered by the prospecting licences. The terms and conditions of the lease have not yet been settled.

Could the Minister tell us if he has any genuine information about these new discoveries at the Navan mine? What method does the Minister use to test such claims of new discoveries?

Announcements about new discoveries are not made by the Department of Industry and Commerce. If somebody sticks something in the ground every day and makes a new discovery that is none of my business.

The Minister said that he has not yet fixed the terms of the mining lease and very properly so——

That is right.

——but surely it is time we heard some facts from the Department of Industry and Commerce about this matter?

I do not think it is the function of the Department of Industry and Commerce to——

Give facts?

No. As far as I can see what the Deputy wants me to do is either to boost or reduce the Tara shares.

In South Africa, Canada and other countries steps are taken by the appropriate Government Department to check on such claims. Since we have been told of the great developments which have occurred under Fianna Fáil in relation to mining I am asking what arrangements the Minister has made through his Department to check these claims?

The survey section of my Department are continually checking these claims.

That is a different answer.

I do not know whether the Deputy is spokesman on behalf of Fianna Fáil but the statement which the Deputy quoted that the mines were discovered by Fianna Fáil, or something of that nature, was never issued.

I said it was one of the great developments which had occurred under the Fianna Fáil Government.

There is no doubt about it.

There are grave doubts now.

There are doubts nowadays.