Production at Ireland’s largest mining operation, Tara Mines in Navan is under threat after a drilling disaster earlier this week saw millions of gallons of water flood the underground area forcing the evacuation of all staff on-site at the time.

And now Boliden the mines owners have flown in mining experts from Sweden in a desperate race against time to prevent the mine coming to a complete standstill for the next few months.

A source revealed ‘Thankfully nobody was injured but they now face a massive problem as unless the issue is resolved in the next forty-eight hours there is a real fear the place could be closed for months.

‘What happened was they were drilling on a borehole and hit the underground reservoir which is 1.4km underground and such was the force of the water that flooded through they were unable to bung the hole closed.

‘Millions of gallons of water poured through and as of today, Friday water is still flooding in, when it happened an emergency plan was put in place and everyone was evacuated.

‘On Thursday they tried again to plug the leak but couldn’t manage it the hole is only about four or five inches in diameter but that is big enough for water to pour in

‘This is the biggest technical problem the mine has faced since it opened in the 1970s, the lads from Sweden will hopefully have the technical expertise to sort it.

Ward can turn back the years

As it stands it may take weeks or even months to get back to normal production. The next 24 hours to 48 hours is the crucial time scale to get the flooding stopped.

‘If this last throw of the dice doesn’t succeed there is every likelihood staff can be placed on protective notice, and for what would be Navan’s largest employer that would be a body blow to the local economy coming up to Christmas’.

In a statement, Boliden said ‘The increased water flow “resulted from the drilling of a pilot raise bore hole for a ventilation shaft.

‘Underground production is not considered possible at this time. Inflow volumes are exceeding the capacity of the de-watering infrastructure.

‘Production has been stopped to “focus on protecting infrastructure and equipment”, whilst also eliminating unnecessary additional water into the mine.

‘Efforts are underway to stop the flow of water and it is unclear how long production will be halted.

The bore drilling is development work known in the mine as Tara Deep and is under the current depths that miners work.