Ireland has a long tradition of mining dating back to the Bronze Age. Coal, lead and copper mining flourished during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Following a period of relative decline, the discovery of the Tynagh lead zinc copper mine in 1961 was followed by further discoveries at Silvermines and Gortdrum. These mines have now closed, but the development of the Navan mine in 1974, followed by the Galmoy and Lisheen mines means that Ireland is a leading European producer of zinc and lead concentrates in Europe.
The development of minerals, other than turf, stone, gravel, sand and clay, is regulated under the Minerals Development Acts. Mining Leases and Licences are required and Planning Permission and an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Licence must also be obtained.
There are more than 400 quarries and sand pits supplying construction industry materials, but these are not subject to the Minerals Development Acts.