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You need a licence to mine for minerals in Northern Ireland.

Licences are issued by the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland (DfENI) who are advised and supported by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland (GSNI).

How to apply

Download an application form from the DfENI website.

Licences applies to all mineral deposits with a few exceptions, mainly salt. Some ‘common’ substances are also excluded, eg:

  • crushed rock
  • sand
  • gravel
  • brick clay
  • agricultural soil

You need a separate licence for mineral prospecting. You can also register an expression of interest over ground you are considering prospecting.


Precious metals such as gold and silver belong to the Crown Estate Commissioners (CEC). You must apply to both CEC and DfENI to explore these. Once DfENI has issued a licence, CEC will normally issue you with a licence as well.