Crónica Galicia.

Crónica Galicia.

La Xunta y una empresa se unen contra la suspensión de la mina de coltán de O Bolo mientras los ecologistas presentan objeciones.

La Xunta y una empresa se unen contra la suspensión de la mina de coltán de O Bolo mientras los ecologistas presentan objeciones.

Strategic Minerals, a mining company, is exploiting the slag heap of the former Rumasa and obtained a concession in 2022 to extract tin, tantalum, and niobium.

SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Dec 16.

The Xunta (regional government) has filed an appeal against the precautionary measure issued by the Galician High Court of Justice (TSXG) that halted the coltan mine in Penouta, Viana do Bolo (Ourense), the only one in Europe to exploit this mineral, essential for the production of mobile phones and other devices.

Sources from the Ministry of Economy and Industry confirmed to Europa Press that this appeal was filed on October 23.

Strategic Minerals, the company involved, also submitted a motion for reconsideration to the administrative litigation chamber of the TSXG, "but also for preparation, in case it is not fully accepted, of the corresponding appeal before the Supreme Court."

In similar appeals, both the Xunta and the company argue for the importance of the project in terms of job creation and claim that the mine "is located outside the protected area of the Natura 2000 Network and does not cause any impact (neither waste nor other effects) on it."

On the other hand, Ecoloxistas en Acción (Ecologists in Action) argues that these statements "are simply false" because the exploitation "has a direct impact on the watercourses located in the Natura 2000 Network, involving critical contamination with heavy metals, with a potential impact of bioaccumulation and biomagnification that the environmental impact study ignores."

In response, Cristóbal López, spokesperson for this ecological association, criticized the Xunta for defending a company with a "very complicated history" that "has accumulated six cases of pollution" affecting the municipality's water supply, in an interview with Europa Press.

For its part, the Ministry of Economy and Industry stated that the Xunta "will always defend the idea that the development of the sector in Galicia must prioritize sustainable and environmentally conscious mining."

The court suspended the resolution of the Xunta that approved the exploitation project and the restoration plan for the mining concession of a section of the Penouta mine, in response to the lawsuit filed by Ecoloxistas en Acción due to the "serious impacts" of the mine on the protected area of Pena Trevinca, Natura 2000.

According to sources from the regional council, however, this resolution was issued "after a rigorous process in compliance with environmental and mining legislation." These sources also claim that "the project site does not have any designation as a protected natural area, and the perimeter of the extraction zone of the mining concession is within areas degraded by past mining activities in the last century."

The spokesperson for the environmentalists argues that the area is "in the vicinity" and near the Natura 2000 Network, and also points out that the proportion of coltan in it is "very small."

In recent weeks, several protests have taken place against the suspension, and the Mayor of Viana do Bolo (from the conservative Popular Party) issued a statement expressing the municipality's "strong support" for the company and its workers and encouraging residents to participate in a "peaceful demonstration."

In Penouta, in Viana do Bolo (Ourense), there are currently two mining rights: 'Penouta No. 61' for resources in section 'B', where Strategic Minerals Spain has been exploiting the slag heap and deposits of the former Rumasa mine since April 2013.

The second is the Penouta mine 'No. 4880.1', which, after a favorable environmental impact assessment in December 2021, obtained a mining concession in May 2022 and involves the extraction of tin, tantalum, and niobium resources in section 'C'.

Following the notification in mid-October of the precautionary suspension by the TSXG, the resolution for section 'C' is pending, unlike section 'B'.

The Xunta points out that the suspended resolution was issued after an environmental impact assessment process carried out between 2020 and 2021 "and was subject to sectoral review by all relevant bodies." They add that it included a restoration plan "guaranteeing the recovery of the entire degraded area."

The Galician government appeals to the "respectful use of natural resources" and compatibility with other activities in order to generate wealth and employment, as stated in its 'Axenda de Impulso da Minería Sostible de Galicia' (Agenda for the Promotion of Sustainable Mining in Galicia).

Ecoloxistas en Acción emphasizes that Viana do Bolo "existed" before the arrival of this company and points out the discharge of waste associated with the exploitation of the slag heap.

In mid-October, it was reported that the TSXG had immediately and unconditionally suspended the Xunta's resolution approving the exploitation project and the restoration plan for the mining concession of this mine.

Ecoloxistas en Acción has been denouncing the impacts of this mining operation for years, including waste discharge into the local streams that affect the Pena Trevinca Site of Community Importance, which is part of the Natura 2000 Network.

Now, they argue that the court has proven them right by temporarily suspending the Xunta's resolution authorizing the mine project.