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News                                       The Portugal News • 24 Aug 2019 11
                                                                         News


      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.
            avannah            “At this time, for the  size of the mine and its  the voices of those who are
            Resources, a UK-   reserves we have, the   environmental impacts.   against lithium mining and
            quoted company,    investment is about €100  “We still do not know what  other substances on their
      Spresented in Covas      million,” he said.      will happen to our waters,  doorstep.
      do Barroso, Boticas, in the  To prepare for the mine,  what will be of our quality of  Laura Williams, a British
      Vila Real district, plans for  the company plans to build  life, the dust that will be in  woman based in Portugal
      an initial investment of  an alternative road to  the air, the impacts on the  and part of the “Awakened
      €100 million in a lithium  reduce the impact on the  soils and how this will all  Forest Project”, co-
      mining project that it said  population from the  be mitigated,” he stressed.  organisers of the event,
      would directly create 300  passage of machinery and  “We still have no answers.”  reveals that this action is a
      jobs, but which is being  trucks, Barros said. He  Gomes said that “most of  creative way to reveal to the
      contested by many locals.  explained that the ore is to  the population is against”  world the environmental
      At a public meeting in Covas  be transported to the port of  the project at this moment.  crime that is about to
      do Barroso, the parish   Leixões, near Porto, from  He said that it only made  happen and “demand
      where it intends to press  where it will be exported, in  sense to have this meeting  more information and
      ahead with an open mine to  the initial phase, to China.  now, in August, because  transparency from the
      extract spodumene, the   According to Barros, the  this is when many      authorities, especially
      mineral from which lithium  company is discussing with  emigrants return to their  about the negative
      is to be removed, the room  Portugal’s government the  homeland.          environmental impact on
      was filled with permanent  possibility of building a  The UDCB president said  our society. ”
      local residents and      refinery to process the ore  he believes “it is still  She added: “Mining of this
      emigrants back for the   in the area of Porto.   possible to stop the mine”,  type occurs mainly in the
      summer holidays.         The company foresees the  which he described as  open and using explosives
      After more than three hours  creation of 300 jobs directly  “megalomaniacal project  and chemicals with great
      of debate, the president of  and a further 600 indirectly.  that does not fit into this  risk to the environment,
      the association United in  According to Barros, more  region” – which was  such as water
      Defence of Covas do      than €258 million in    classified as World      contamination and
      Barroso (UDCB), Nelson   royalties is to be paid to the  Agricultural Heritage in  atmospheric pollution. This
      Gomes, said that he had not  state in the form of taxes  2017.            will have an impact not only
      shed his “main concerns”  and fees from the project –  “Quality of life is much  on public health, but also
      with the mine project.   part of which may also go  more important than   on the local economy,
      João Barros, manager of  to the municipality.    money,” he said.         agriculture and tourism,  The association United in Defence of Covas do Barroso
                                                                                                        The association United in Defence of Covas do Barroso
                                                                                                        The association United in Defence of Covas do Barroso
                                                                                                        The association United in Defence of Covas do Barroso
                                                                                                        The association United in Defence of Covas do Barroso
      Savannah Lithium         He said that the company  Meanwhile, activists and  degrading a landscape  (UDCB) was set up to fight against the lithium mine
                                                                                                        (UDCB) was set up to fight against the lithium mine
                                                                                                        (UDCB) was set up to fight against the lithium mine
                                                                                                        (UDCB) was set up to fight against the lithium mine
                                                                                                        (UDCB) was set up to fight against the lithium mine
      Portugal, the local unit,  wants to start “the   citizens in the centre of the  already affected by forest  project and warn of the impacts arising from open-air
                                                                                                        project and warn of the impacts arising from open-air
                                                                                                        project and warn of the impacts arising from open-air
                                                                                                        project and warn of the impacts arising from open-air
                                                                                                        project and warn of the impacts arising from open-air
      said that at present the  negotiation of         country will be taking part  fires and monocultures.”  mining. (Photo: Lusa/Pedro Sarmento Costa)
                                                                                                        mining. (Photo: Lusa/Pedro Sarmento Costa)
                                                                                                        mining. (Photo: Lusa/Pedro Sarmento Costa)
                                                                                                        mining. (Photo: Lusa/Pedro Sarmento Costa)
                                                                                                        mining. (Photo: Lusa/Pedro Sarmento Costa)
      Environmental Impact     compensation measures”  in an unprecedented air
      Study (EIA) of the project is  to offset negative impacts  action in Seia against
      underway, and should be  on local people, and stated  lithium exploitation in
      completed by the end of the  that the objective of the  Portugal.
      year. If all goes well, he  day’s session was    Taking place on 24 August
      said, the company intends  precisely “bringing the  at the highest point in
      to start mining in late 2020.  company closer to the  mainland Portugal,
      According to Barros,     community”.             between 400 and 700
      prospection at the       UDCB was set up last year  people are to write a
      proposed site have       precisely to fight against  protest message “No to
      revealed reserves of     the project and warn of the  mines - Water is Life”.
      “twenty-seven million tons  impacts arising from open-  Filmed from the air with
      of spodumene, with an    air mining. Gomes told  drones, this visual
      average lithium content of  journalists that the main  message will be broadcast
      1.06 percent.            concerns related to the  internationally to broaden
      App spots 23,000 items of rubbish
      on Portuguese beaches
        A citizen-science phone app that allows  the researcher, explaining that, since
      the identification of rubbish on Portuguese  MARE is based in Figueira da Foz, it is in
      beaches already has 23,000 items spotted,  this area and in Lisbon (where APLM is
      most of them cigarette butts and     located) that more records have been
      disposable plastic, the coordinator of the  made through the app.
      University of Coimbra project has said.  However, the project aims to extend
        Filipa Bessa, coordinator of the project  partnerships, namely with schools through
      developed by the Centre for Marine and  the inclusion of this activity in educational
      Environmental Sciences (MARE) of the  packages. “It will be important to
      University of Coimbra, in partnership with  understand if there are different types of
      the Portuguese Association of Marine Litter  waste in certain areas so that effective
      (APLM), reported that in six months of  action can be taken to reduce marine litter
      activity, the app already has 900 registered  in Portugal”, said Filipa Bessa.
      users and 23,000 objects counted on    The platform, which had the support of
      Portuguese beaches.                  European funds, allows simple counting
        The platform (available at         and mapping of marine litter on Portuguese
      lixomarinho.app) which allows anyone to  beaches in beach cleaning events.
      record marine litter found on the beach, was  The simple count, consisting of 20 items
      launched six months ago and aims to raise  representing the materials and waste that
      awareness to combat rubbish on beaches.  are most recorded on Portugal’s beaches
        “We are very satisfied with the results  will indicate the trends of types of waste
      achieved in these six months”, stressed  over time.
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