Speaking to the Lusa agency, director Nuno Forner considered it "extremely positive" to have carried out the evaluation that ended with the "exclusion of two areas [Arga and Segura], two of the most controversial, with local populations and movements rising up".
The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) in eight areas with potential for lithium existence concluded by excluding Arga and Segura, and made it possible to research and prospect that mineral in six zones, proposing in these "an initial area reduction by half", disclosed the Ministry of Environment and Climate Action.
After the conclusions of the Directorate-General for Energy and Geology, the MAAC added that the public tender for the allocation of lithium prospecting and research rights “may advance in the next 60 days”.
"Recommendations for the future in prospecting and research, in providing information to interested parties, come from here, because what we have seen is a lack of involvement of communities, in which there is no lack of concern because [mining] will always have environmental impacts and social", stressed Nuno Forner.
With a tender under way, it remains to be seen who will get the right to research the amount of lithium that each area may contain and the conditions for exploring it, a process that takes place right away "in the open and will move many millions of tonnes" of soil.
"Even with this assessment, it does not mean that there will not be conflicts and possible social impacts. There are areas with many square kilometres, we do not know which are the target areas of the companies that will get the rights." he argued.
Accepting that any mine has "always impacts", the question is whether "mining is more or less responsible and that is what has to be also evaluated before moving on to exploration, and also in prospecting and research, which have to have low impacts".
The exclusion of the area called Arga, located in Serra D'Arga, in Alto Minho, is justified by the “expectable classification as a Protected Area”, which implies that “more than half of the surface” will be “considered prohibited or to be avoided”.
Serra d'Arga covers the municipalities of Caminha, Vila Nova de Cerveira, Viana do Castelo and Ponte de Lima and is currently being classified as a Protected Landscape Area of Regional Interest.
The AAE made possible the areas called "Seixoso-Vieiros", which covers the municipalities of Fafe, Celorico de Basto, Guimarães, Felgueiras, Amarante and Mondim de Basto, "Massueime", which reaches the municipalities of Almeida, Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Pinhel , Trancoso and Meda, “Guarda-Mangualde C (Blocs N and S)”, which includes Belmonte, Covilhã, Fundão and Guarda, “Guarda-Mangualde E”, which includes Almeida, Belmonte, Guarda and Sabugal, “Guarda-Mangualde W ”, which includes Mangualde, Gouveia, Seia, Penalva do Castelo, Fornos de Algodres and Celorico da Beira, as well as “Guarda-Mangualde NW”, an area that includes the municipalities of Viseu, Satão, Penalva do Castelo, Mangualde, Seia and Nelas .