Geoscience Ireland (GI) is a network of 25 companies, delivering integrated expertise in water, minerals, environmental and infrastructure development to clients in over 50 countries. GI is supported by the Geological Survey of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. The GI network provides design, consultancy and contracting services to multilateral agencies, governments and the private sector.


Faced with the collapse of the Irish construction sector in 2010, Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI) came together with significant companies and research groups in the Irish geoscience sector to identify opportunities for international growth. An initial reference group of five companies met in 2011 and, with EI and GSI assistance, commissioned preliminary market research by Neary Marketing with the objective of creating a collaborative network, designed to win business in international markets. The idea for Geoscience Ireland was born. Since September 2012, Geoscience Ireland has had a full time director of business development, Sean Finlay, who has extensive experience in mining and infrastructure development in Ireland and overseas. Based in GSI’s offices in Dublin, he is assisted by Andrew Gaynor, business development executive. The initial reference group has now grown to 25 member companies providing a new kind of collaboration. There are major benefits to clients which can be realised through a strongly collaborative approach among Irish companies in delivering technical expertise across the water resources, infrastructure, exploration, mining and environmental sectors, as well as the ‘softer’ supports of institutional capacity building, regulation and policy development in emerging economies.

Geoscience Ireland member companies

The GI network of member companies comprises five main areas of expertise: Geological GI member companies in this field specialise in mineral exploration management, mineral resources licensing and valuations, due diligence for mining and exploration financing, geophysical surveying, mapping, quarry design and management. APEX Geoservices | BRG |IE Consulting Engineers | SLR Consulting Ireland [caption id="attachment_23803" align="alignright" width="300"]Mine Haul Road Mine Haul Road, Western Desert, Saudi Arabia; Byrne Looby[/caption] Geotechnical: Geotechnical engineering provides for ground investigation design, geophysical surveying, foundation design, slope stability and geo-hazard risk assessments (e.g. flooding, landslides, earthquakes). Project management and construction supervision are a further sphere of activity of geotechnical engineers. GI member companies target civil, structural, energy, minerals and water projects in major civil infrastructure projects, harbours/marinas, offshore oil and gas fields, onshore and offshore wind farms, and commercial structures. AGEC | Byrne Looby |GDGeo Water Services and Infrastructure GI members are providers of consultancy services in assessing, delivering and managing clean water supplies from surface and groundwater, waste water treatment and flood risk management. GI members have particular specialities in hydrology and hydrogeology, contaminated land and environmental assessment. Infrastructure and civil engineering involve route and site selection, geospatial engineering, ground investigation and design for linear and other infrastructure, including roads, railways, gas and electricity transmission, mines, quarries, waste management facilities and waste water treatment plants. Coastway | J.B. Barry & Partners | Nicholas O’Dwyer | Pavement Management Systems | TOBIN | Byrne Looby | IE Consulting Environmental [caption id="attachment_23806" align="alignright" width="300"]Geo Sci AWN Development of environmental options appraisal process, AWN Consulting[/caption] The delivery of mining and infrastructure projects involves environmental impact statements and assessments drawing on specialities in soils, water, rock, contaminated land, air quality and acoustics. Client representation, regulatory liaison and investor guidance for mining, water services and energy developers are also key competencies. Sorhill Advocates Pty | AWN Consulting |TOBIN | SLR |Verde Environmental Drilling, Civil/Mining and Lining Contractors GI member companies in this field offer specialist drilling services and contracting support in the areas of mineral exploration, onshore and offshore geotechnical investigation, directional drilling, hard rock tunnelling, underground wireline drilling, civil engineering, building construction and supervision, soil nailing/anchoring/rock bolting and contract mining services. Services include design and lining of water storage ponds and of tailings management systems and the provision of specialised equipment for sheet piling, anchoring and flood protection. FLI | IGSL | Irish Drilling Ltd | Meehan Drilling Ltd |Priority Drilling Ltd | Priority Geotechnical Ltd | PW Mining |QME | Trench Control GI member companies are also experienced in fossil and renewable energy management e.g. oil, natural gas, geothermal sources, geo-engineering of wind and wave energy sources. Geosciences are frequently required in the formulation of policy for land use, waste management, and environmental regulation and play a central role in the evolution of mining and exploration policies and regulation. Many of the companies offer services in more than one area, hence some are listed more than once above; the GI website provides details of each member company’s capabilities.

Operations and Evolution

Geoscience Ireland targets a number of business development avenues. Primarily, GI target tender opportunities born from major multilateral development organisations and international financial institutions (IFIs). IFIs include the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, European Investment Bank, EU and UN development agencies and bodies, as they sponsor and finance large projects across GI target markets: the UK, Scandinavia, the Balkans, the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. GI also enthusiastically targets and builds relationships with private sector clients operating overseas and foreign government bodies and authorities to identify opportunities for member companies. [caption id="attachment_23795" align="alignright" width="300"]Graph 1 – Job creation - Geoscience Ireland. Net changes in job numbers. Sept 2012 - June 2015 Graph 1 – Job creation - Geoscience Ireland. Net changes in job numbers. Sept 2012 - June 2015 (click to enlarge)[/caption] An important aspect of GI is establishing routes and introductions to markets. GI collaborates with Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Consulting Ireland and the Irish Exporters Association and has completed overseas market study visits (MSVs) and trade missions to complete market research and attain business to business (B2B) and government to business (G2B) connections. Conferences and trade fairs also prove invaluable in networking into overseas markets. In tracking the evolution of GI and measuring its impact on the geoscience sector, and the wider Irish economy, we analyse the GI member’s numbers employed and turnover figures. In the last three years, GI members have created over 250 new jobs - [see graph 1] - of which over 60 per cent are driven by overseas projects. This significant achievement aligns well with the strategy of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources which envisages a total of 250 new jobs emerging from GI companies by 2017.

International focus

Working abroad is nothing new to the 25 member companies involved, given that they have worked in over 50 countries and have offices in the UK, Africa, the Arabian Gulf and Australia. The following is a selection of case Studies completed by GI member companies:
  • Eliminate pollution of the Eugene River and compliance with the EU Urban Wastewater Directive – providing construction, supervision & technical assistance at Luluburgaz, Turkey; J.B.Barry & Partners. Shortlisted for ‘Overseas Project of the Year’ as part of the ACEI Annual Excellence Awards 2014
  • Strategic Tunnel Enhancement Programme (STEP) - providing geotechnical design services for major sewer link in Abu Dhabi, UAE; Byrne Looby
  • Dogger Bank Metmast Installations -assessing the site specific suitability for the new vessel to ensure safe and efficient jacking operations, Dogger Bank, UK Sector of the North Sea; GDGeo
  • Project Highlander - develop a feeder chamber and a new 210m x 4m diameter glory hole within an existing one mile long tunnel, Glensanda Quarry, Oban, Scotland; QME
[caption id="attachment_23800" align="alignright" width="300"]GeoSci Areas of Operations Geoscience Ireland areas of operations (click to enlarge)[/caption]
  • Goro Nickel Mine - main contract for specialist services during construction of new nickel mine, both process plant and tailings storage facility, New Caledonia, Asia- Pacific; FLI
  • Development of Environmental Options Appraisal Process - review and development of a corporate process and accompanying best practice guidance and tools to enable the appraisal of environmental options across all Tullow activities regardless of location, pan-national, AWN Consulting
  • Geotechnical design for mine site with planned output of 180,000 ounces of gold per annum, Western Desert, Saudi Arabia; Byrne Looby
  • Coal Bed Methane Drilling - providing an integrated ISO certified (18001 and 9001) full drilling service package including drilling, offsets, management of all fluid, Stirling, Scotland; Meehan Drilling
  • Knin Water & Wastewater - Supervision of two separate IPA contracts over a 45 month contract period, involving rehabilitation, upgrading, and extension of the water supply and sewerage networks, and a new wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in the town of Knin, Croatia; J.B. Barry & Partners
  • Water supervision - contract for water supply project to 15 towns, Ethiopia; Nicholas O’Dwyer
  • Mine Audit - mining, socio-environmental, metallurgical, geological, financial and social auditing of international gold mines, Mali; SLR Consulting

Research and Development

Geosciences provide a major impetus to research and development in devising new technologies for finding and extracting minerals, environmental protection, understanding geo-processes, and establishing engineering properties of rocks and soils. GI also has links to the major research institutions in Ireland. Science Foundation of Ireland (SFI) formally launched the Irish Centre for Research in Applied Geoscience (ICRAG) in late 2014. GI has been involved with the initiative from the outset in underpinning economic development in the industry. The initiative brings together all of the main geoscience research units in Ireland, with strong links to government and industry, and will have a total value, over six years of c.€24 million, 70 per cent funded by Science Foundation Ireland and 30 per cent by 53 industrial partners. Led by University College Dublin, the centre also includes principal investigators from TCD, NUIG and UCC, with academic collaborators at DCU, DIAS and Maynooth University.

Awards for Excellence

[caption id="attachment_23808" align="alignright" width="300"]Knin Waste and Wastewater Knin Water and Wastewater, Knin, Croatia; J.B. Barry and Partners[/caption] GI member companies and their staff have frequently won awards for excellence in project design and delivery and for individual contributions to the engineering and scientific professions. Among those honoured is Byrne Looby (Engineers Ireland Excellence Award, 2013) for winning both the 2015 Irish Construction Industry’s ‘Engineering Firm of the Year’ and ‘Innovation in Workplace Health and Safety’ as well as being finalists in the 2015 Ground Engineering UK ‘Project of the Year’ and ‘Consultancy of the Year’ awards. Byrne Looby was also named as one of Ireland’s ‘Best Managed’ companies in the Deloitte Best Managed Companies Awards Programme in 2014 and 2015. Nicholas O'Dwyer Consulting Engineers were winners of the 'Overseas Project of the Year' for the Zarqa Water Supply in Jordan , awarded by the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland (ACEI) Annual Excellence Awards 2014, while the Association for Consultancy & Engineering (ACE) awarded the 2014 European CEO of the Year to Richard Crowe, MD of Nicholas O’Dwyer. J.B. Barry and Partners were shortlisted for both ‘Innovative Project of the Year’ and ‘Overseas Project of the Year’ as part of the ACEI Annual Excellence Awards (2014). EurGeol Kevin Cullen of Verde Environmental was awarded the 2015 IGI Medal of Honour by The Institute of Geologists of Ireland (IGI). Dr Kieran Feighan of Pavement Management Systems currently serves as the vice president of Engineers Ireland. The late Niall McDermott of J. B. Barry and Partners was awarded the 2013 International Engineer award by Engineers Ireland. In addition to its established range of awards, Engineers Ireland plans an additional Award in 2015 – the Geoscience Ireland Award. The Geoscience Ireland Award recognises exceptional achievement in design and/or delivery of projects requiring significant geo-scientific expertise e.g. involving geological, geochemical, geophysical, geotechnical or hydrogeological studies or projects in the development of natural resources, infrastructure and water services in international markets.


Governments in developed economies provide a variety of support mechanisms for industry to win business internationally. Foreign aid is often “tied” to the donor country while national trade promotion agencies provide export credit financing and insurances. In the geoscience sector, national geological surveys compete for funds from IFIs to win surveying and training projects in less developed countries. The GI initiative is a different Government to Business support model. Ireland does not engage in “tied” aid, nor does the Geological Survey of Ireland undertake overseas projects. The GI support mechanism provides market research, marketing and promotional support for a network of companies and fosters a collaborative approach between the member companies. Creating and sustaining jobs are the objectives and it is the Member Companies themselves which deliver on these targets. The future evolution of the GI Network is to continue creating and sustaining jobs in the Irish geoscience sector. Engaging with overseas markets by means of developing and maintaining high-level networks with multilateral development agencies, foreign government bodies and private sector clients creates the opportunities required for winning business. Fostering and facilitating GI’s collaborative approach in international development is an integral objective and the future direction of GI will draw on the sustained cooperation and participation of its members. Geoscience Ireland contact information: Sean Finlay | Director – Business Development ph: +353 1 678 2842 | e: Andrew Gaynor | Business Development Executive ph: +353 1 678 2673 | e: w: | @GeoscienceIre | Geoscience Ireland Geoscience Ireland | Geological Survey of Ireland | Haddington Road | Dublin 4 | D04 K7X4 | Ireland