A conservation charity has objected to the reopening of a Highland gold mine.
The John Muir Trust said plans to develop the workings near Tyndrum would lessen the wilderness feel of the area, on the foothills of Ben Lui, the 27th highest munro.
Australian-owned Scotgold wants to restart working the mine at Cononish, which was last used more than 10 years ago. Silver and other minerals are also believed to be buried beneath the 880m (2,887ft) Beinn Chuirn, an outlier of the 1,130m (3,703ft) Ben Lui.
But the trust said restarting mining for precious metals would diminish the feeling of wildness and remoteness associated with the area, which lies within the Ben Lui national nature reserve and the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs national park.
Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust said: “If Scotgold were to go back and demonstrate there will be no long-term deleterious effects on sensitive landscapes, recreational access to wild land or on existing tourist-based economies the trust might withdraw its objection to the planning proposal as it currently stands.
“However, we do not believe that sufficient information has been given by Scotgold to show how negative impacts will be avoided, nor has any compelling socio-economic reason been presented as to why this would be necessary.”
The trust is also campaigning for greater protection for the UK’s last remaining wild land, through a new environmental designation in Scotland, and the extension and creation of national park areas in the rest of the UK.
Estimates by Scotgold Resources, owners of the mine near Tyndrum in Strathfillan, put the potential gold reserves at 154,000 ounces, with a further 589,000 ounces of silver. At current gold prices the value of gold reserves alone stand at more than £121m with £7m-worth of silver in the mountain.
The company also has its eyes on other sites within the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs national park where geological surveys suggest there could be commercially viable reserves of precious metals.
The application at Cononish is for a ten-year licence to extract up to 72,000 tonnes of ore per year, followed by reinstatement. Works would include underground mine workings, service and production buildings, plant, a waste storage area, pond and gauging station, access roads, bridge, car parking and would involve the diversion of a burn.
The company says between 50 and 60 jobs would be created, mostly for local residents.