Government accused of rushing through mining contracts
An investigation by newspaper Público has revealed that — despite what it may have said earlier this year — the Government has actually gone ahead and signed 16 contracts with mining companies ahead of long-awaited protective legislation.
The contracts involve nine projects for the prospecting of quartz and ‘metallic minerals’ (including copper and gold) and seven exploration contracts for ‘non-metallic minerals’ including feldspar.
Bizarrely, none of these contracts appear to have been uploaded onto the official DGEC (Department of Energy and Geology) website, as this is undergoing reconstruction.
In other words, no one outside of the Government (and the various private companies involved) can tell which parts of the country are about to be affected.
None of the contracts signed refers to the prospecting or exploitation of lithium. But what is enraging left-wing parties is that the deals have been done ahead of legislation promised for years to tighten environmental controls and give local communities a real say in what will be affecting them.
In March 2019, the secretary of State for energy João Galamba guaranteed that he was giving the DGEC ‘indications’ to complete the text of the long-awaited new law to be published in government newspaper Díario da República.
Fifteen months on and nothing has changed. Explain reports, the law promises to “reinforce the power of municipal councils and civic movements” — giving the former the power of veto and the later the chance to sit on various commissions.
André Silva of PAN (People, Animals and Nature party) said that: “Everything looks like the Government is pulling an environmental farce” by putting economic gain ahead of the protection of nature.
Silva has called on the environmental minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes to address parliament. (Natasha Donn – Algarve Resident)