An investigation by 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 prospection 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 DGEG (department of energy and geology) website, as this is undergoing ‘remodelling’.
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.
(Readers will be aware that Monchique has battled on various occasions against projects for the mining of feldspar).
What is clear for now is that none of the contracts signed refers to the prospection or exploration 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 ultimately affect their way of life and environment.
In March 2019, secretary of state for energy João Galamba guaranteed that he was giving the DGEG ‘indications’ to complete the text of the long-awaited new law to be published in government newspaper Diário de 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 latter the chance to sit on relevant commissions.
Says André Silva of PAN (the People Animals Nature party) everything looks like the government is pulling ‘an environmental farce’ by putting economic gain ahead of the protection of nature.
Silva has called for Environment minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes to address parliament.