Photo: Lisheen mine, Co. Tipperary which has started remediation works. The site is also used for energy production through peat harvesting and wind energy generation.
Ireland has a long history of mining. Records of mining here go back as far as the bronze age approximately 5,000 years ago. At this time the southeast of the country was a major copper producing area and gold was also being sourced from rivers and streams.
During the industrial revolution in the late 18th century Ireland's mining industry flourished. During this time almost every county had at least one metal mine, copper mining in the southeast, iron extraction in the east, lead-silver extraction in various locations across the country and the gold rush in Co. Wicklow.
Today Ireland is an internationally renown zinc and lead mining area. Large deposits have been extracted from mines in Navan, Galmoy and Lisheen. The mines in Galmoy in Co. Kilkenny and Lisheen in Co. Tipperary have ceased production in recent years but Tara Mines in Co. Meath is still in operation. At its peak Ireland was the largest producer of Zinc in Europe and the second largest producer of lead.
In addition to the metal mining Ireland also has a strong rock and mineral extraction industry. Limestone is widely quarried across the country for use in the construction industry, gypsum for use in plasterboard is currently being extracted from a site in Co. Cavan and the mineral dolomite is being extracted from a site in Co. Kilkenny for use in construction aggregates.