Lithium mine plans forge ahead as protests continue

in News · 23-08-2019 01:00:00 · 2 Comments
Lithium mine plans forge ahead as protests continue

Plans to open lithium mines in Portugal continue to move forward, however activists and local residents continue to oppose the developments.

Savannah Resources, a UK-quoted company, presented in Covas do Barroso, Boticas, in the Vila Real district, plans for an initial investment of €100 million in a lithium mining project that it said would directly create 300 jobs, but which is being contested by many locals.


At a public meeting in Covas do Barroso, the parish where it intends to press ahead with an open mine to extract spodumene, the mineral from which lithium is to be removed, the room was filled with permanent local residents and emigrants back for the summer holidays.
After more than three hours of debate, the president of the association United in Defence of Covas do Barroso (UDCB), Nelson Gomes, said that he had not shed his “main concerns” with the mine project.


João Barros, manager of Savannah Lithium Portugal, the local unit, said that at present the Environmental Impact Study (EIA) of the project is underway, and should be completed by the end of the year. If all goes well, he said, the company intends to start mining in late 2020.


According to Barros, prospection at the proposed site have revealed reserves of “twenty-seven million tons of spodumene, with an average lithium content of 1.06 percent.


“At this time, for the reserves we have, the investment is about €100 million,” he said.


To prepare for the mine, the company plans to build an alternative road to reduce the impact on the population from the passage of machinery and trucks, Barros said. He explained that the ore is to be transported to the port of Leixões, near Porto, from where it will be exported, in the initial phase, to China.


According to Barros, the company is discussing with Portugal’s government the possibility of building a refinery to process the ore in the area of Porto.


The company foresees the creation of 300 jobs directly and a further 600 indirectly.


According to Barros, more than €258 million in royalties is to be paid to the state in the form of taxes and fees from the project – part of which may also go to the municipality.


He said that the company wants to start “the negotiation of compensation measures” to offset negative impacts on local people, and stated that the objective of the day’s session was precisely “bringing the company closer to the community”.


UDCB was set up last year precisely to fight against the project and warn of the impacts arising from open-air mining. Gomes told journalists that the main concerns related to the size of the mine and its environmental impacts.


“We still do not know what will happen to our waters, what will be of our quality of life, the dust that will be in the air, the impacts on the soils and how this will all be mitigated,” he stressed. “We still have no answers.”


Gomes said that “most of the population is against” the project at this moment. He said that it only made sense to have this meeting now, in August, because this is when many emigrants return to their homeland.


The UDCB president said he believes “it is still possible to stop the mine”, which he described as “megalomaniacal project that does not fit into this region” – which was classified as World Agricultural Heritage in 2017.


“Quality of life is much more important than money,” he said.


Meanwhile, activists and citizens in the centre of the country will be taking part in an unprecedented air action in Seia against lithium exploitation in Portugal.


Taking place on 24 August at the highest point in mainland Portugal, between 400 and 700 people are to write a protest message “No to mines - Water is Life”.


Filmed from the air with drones, this visual message will be broadcast internationally to broaden the voices of those who are against lithium mining and other substances on their doorstep.


Laura Williams, a British woman based in Portugal and part of the “Awakened Forest Project”, co-organisers of the event, reveals that this action is a creative way to reveal to the world the environmental crime that is about to happen and “demand more information and transparency from the authorities, especially about the negative environmental impact on our society. ”


She added: “Mining of this type occurs mainly in the open and using explosives and chemicals with great risk to the environment, such as water contamination and atmospheric pollution. This will have an impact not only on public health, but also on the local economy, agriculture and tourism, degrading a landscape already affected by forest fires and monocultures.”



Comments:

There are enough open mines in Australia and South America to provide all the evidence of the long term damage and desolation these mines bring to the local environment.
And contrary to these countries, with huge territories, where these mines are often situated very far from human life, Portugal's landmass is totally integrated with is population.
Furthermore, scientific research is already working on the next generation of new batteries without lithium.
It's a bad idea

by Fabio galardi from Lisbon on 24-08-2019 08:48:00

They should NOT be allowed to mine anything without a refinery to process the ore. And build a factory to create lithium batteries. What’s the point in extracting lithium if one is not going to turn it into a high value good.

by Anna from Madeira on 24-08-2019 12:38:00
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