Irish exploration company Conroy Diamonds and Gold has substantially upgraded its estimate of gold at Clontibret in Co Monaghan to more than one million ounces.

The company says it believes that this is the first gold resource of over a million ounces to be reported in Ireland or the UK. The news sent the company's share price up more than 25% on London's AIM market.

Professor Richard Conroy, chairman of Conroy Diamonds and Gold, said that in gold business terms a million ounces is a significant amount of gold, and the find puts his company into a new league.

He said the find was 'fairly low-grade', with one or two grammes of gold per tonne. But he said it looked as if it would be economic to mine the gold.

Going on his experience at the zinc mine at Galmoy in County Kilkenny, Professor Conroy said the mining of the gold at Clontibret would bring 'very considerable' economic benefits to the area, with not only well paid mining jobs, but also jobs in security, maintenance and a boost in demand for accommodation.

Conroy says that indicated resources for the Co Monaghan site now stand at 440,000 ounces with an additional inferred resource of 590,000. The latest report relates to an area amounting to only 20% of the Clontibret target.

The company had already begun work on a pre-feasibility study on whether a mine would be viable. This morning, it was reported that drilling at one of the UK's few workable gold mines - Cononish mine, near the village of Tyndrum in Scotland - would restart after years lying idle, as the price of gold has soared in recent months.

Professor Conroy said this is a good time to find more gold, as it is now trading at $942 an ounce. He said the company worked away when the price of gold was below $300 an ounce, believing that the price would come up and also believing that the area of County Monaghan was worth exploring.

'Virtually everyone else had stopped exploring at that stage but we kept on, in a somewhat lonely furrow at times, but it certainly turned out well,' he said.