Once again the issue of feldspar mining has reared its ugly head in Monchique – five years since the last credible threat whipped the hillside into a fervour.
But, once again, the town’s mayor has insisted on his vehement opposition – telling news wesbite Sulinformação that he will put himself in the path of diggers if the issue is allowed to go forwards.
The problem surfaces every few years due to known mineral deposits in the iconic hillside.
Only last year, one of the companies with an interest in mining was stopped for illegal earth-moving at Carapitotas (click here), but now a new bid for “research and prospection” has been published in State newspaper Diário de República by Felmica – this time for the area known as Corte Grande.
This gives only the next 30 days for “interested parties” to register their complaints in writing, explains Sulinformação.
In 2012 when Felmica and Sifucel were vying for licences, Corte Grande was on the lips of scores of locals who banded together to fight the threat – saying it would not only ruin rural tourism businesses that have sprung up throughout Picota hillside, but it would pollute and destroy vital underground aquifers.
Mayor Rui André has now told the news service that he is taking the matter to the municipal assembly for the town to “take a position”.
“We are preparing a technical document to back up our opposition. There are various reasons for being against (these plans)”, he explained, citing “environmental, visual and means of access” as well as the fact that the area in question supplies local communities with their water and is part of Rede Natura, REN and RAN classified land (which should be protected).
Sulinformação adds that the latest bid by Felmica differs from its last only in the area it wants to mine: 0.155 sq/kms, as opposed to 1.62 sq/ kms. Still, the concession would involve the equivalent of “15 football fields”, says the site.
The problem for Monchique, as with other borough councils faced with mining issues, is that their opinions and those of their citizens appear to stand for nothing.
Comparing the issue with that of oil and gas exploration in the region – where again, local people’s feelings have been ignored – mayor André said he is prepared to go “to the final consequences” to stop any form of mining activity on the southern slopes of the Monchique hillside.
In the past, he has agreed that a bid for mining in the ‘north side’ could be discussed, as less in the way of communities would be disrupted.