Canadian company, Galantas Gold, which is already digging for gold in Omagh, has won a licence to explore near the shores of Lough Derg.
Roland Phelps, Chief executive, Galantas Gold., said the development was still at a very early stage.
It could take many years to find out if there is enough gold there to be economically viable, he added.
Mr Phelps said they applied for the Donegal licence due to a “trend” in an area 550 sq kms in size, covering Omagh to Lack to Castlederg and over to Pettigo in Donegal.
“This is very early stages and we won’t be drilling for quite a while. When we carry out our operations we are obviously sensitive to the local environment – you have to be.
“We have to find targets first and the indications that we’ve got so far means that we have to follow up with a soil testing programme and do a lot of geophysical work on the those licensed areas first before we can find targets to drill.”
He said drilling could be anything from one mile to 15 miles from Lough Derg, but said they would be sensitive to local concerns.
“We are a little way away from Lough Derg, we’re not right on top of it,” he said.
“When we carry out our operations we are obviously sensitive to the local environment – you have to be. But we don’t know what we’ll find until we look.”
The Lough Derg pilgrimage site – believed to have been the first sanctuary of St Patrick – lies about four miles from the village of Pettigo.
It has been a place of pilgrimage since the sixth century.