Over the last 20 years or so strong bonds have developed between the mine rescue organisations in the Irish Mines of Tara, Galmoy, Lisheen and Kilroot, and in the English Mines of Winsford and Boulby. The cornerstone of this has been the All Ireland and UK Mine Rescue Competition.

The competition has its roots in the Irish base metal mines of the 1960s and 1970s. Famous mines such as Avoca, Tynagh and Silvermines competed for the annual trophy. As the Irish mining industry contracted and the old mines closed, Tara kept the flag flying by holding Celtic competitions with South Crofty and Wheal Jane in Cornwall. Neves Corvo from Portugal competed in 1996.

With a new phase of mining in Ireland in the 1990s, Galmoy and Lisheen entered the fray. The format of the competition was expanded at Lisheen in 2001, and Winsford Mine competed for the first time. In 2002 British Gypsum entered a team, and in 2004 the modern competition was hosted in the UK for the first time, by Winsford Mine in Cheshire. Kilroot Mine from Carrickfergus also initially competed that year.

Kilroot hosted the competition for the first time in 2006. Galmoy were the hosts in 2007, and TARA in 2008. Having initially competed in 2007, Boulby Mine hosted the event in 2009, where Maltby Colliery competed for the first time.

Lisheen held the competition in 2010, Winsford hosted in 2011, Kilroot in 2012, Tara in 2013 and Boulby (CPL) in 2014.

Also, in 2013 and 2014, an Iberian Mine Rescue Competition was held in Aljustrel, Portugal, and several Irish teams took part in those events.

With this increasing interaction between Ireland, UK, Portugal and Spain, Lundin Mining’s Neves Corvo Mine kindly agreed to host this year’s All Ireland and UK Competition. The competition was re-named the European Mine Rescue Competition for that particular event, and was a great success.

However, the Irish Mine Rescue Committee, who are the controlling authority of the All Ireland and UK Competition, were aware that several of the Ireland/UK group of mines had been unable to send teams to Portugal, and decided to ask Boliden Tara Mines Ltd if they would host a further competition in 2015.

Boliden Tara Mines kindly agreed, and hence we were able to stage this competition in an amalgamation with the Tara internal competition. We are also delighted that several of our colleagues from Portugal and the UK helped as judges in this event.

In 2015, we saw Dalradian Gold competing for the first time, and the arrival of this new mine rescue team has instigated a new phase of co-operation between mine rescue organisations and state agencies in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The competition has its roots in the Irish base metal mines of the 1960s and 1970s. Famous mines such as Tynagh and Silvermines competed for the annual trophy. As the industry contracted and the old mines closed, Tara kept the flag flying by holding Celtic mine rescue competitions with South Crofty and Wheal Jane in Cornwall. Neves Corvo from Portugal competed in 1996.

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