With one news source claiming Canadian mining company Colt Resources has disappeared from the Alentejo, leaving behind the gold it says lies underground – along with a number of unpaid workers – another has quoted the local parish council president saying the equivalent of “hallelujah”.
António Maduro, in charge of the parish union of Nossa Senhora da Boa-Fé and S. Sebastião da Giesteira, told Lusa that as far as he was aware no local workers were left unpaid.
But more to the point, Colt’s €40 million mining project would have brought “more disadvantages than advantages”.
“It’s good that it stopped”, he said. “This is my opinion and that of the majority of people here”.
Maduro was approached for a reaction to news in Jornal de Negocios that Colt has “abandoned” the project – despite the fact that eight million ounces of gold lie in the ground – and is in the process of liquidation.
Colt’s Portuguese subsidiary, Eurocolt Resources, is the ‘target of a request for insolvency’, apparently filed by workers, adds the paper.
The Ministry of Economy is reported to have confirmed the story, saying that the “extinction of the various contracts” signed in 2012 between the State and Colt is now going ahead.
These are details about which Maduro has no knowledge, he told Lusa.
“No one has told us a thing”, he explained, though “for a long time, perhaps two years, drilling and prospection works” in the area have been stopped.
“We saw it had all ground to a halt. I think everyone here who worked for the company ended up being paid in full. There were some outsiders involved, so I don’t know whether they ended up with money owing to them”, he continued, but he stressed that the “apparent end to the project” is in no way prejudicial to local life.
“Quite the opposite” in fact – as the “advantages were a great deal less than the disadvantages.
“The mine would have been open-cast, within the community. They were going to open an enormous hole around 120 metres deep and roughly a hectare (10,000 sq m) wide”, the parish council boss explained.
The huge mine would have been just 300 metres from people’s homes.
“Economically, it could have brought some benefit”, he said. But this would be “reduced” and small beer when compared with the scale of environmental damage envisaged.
Maduro’s opinion is backed by local mayor Carlos Pinto de Sá who told Lusa that both the council and municipal assembly had been against the plan from the outset.
Their veto, however, was not enforceable. The final say fell to the government, which approved Colt’s project despite local authorities saying they believed the global costs of the project and “enormous environmental impact” would “widely exceed the limited economic benefits to the parish, borough and region as a whole”.
Like Maduro, Pinto de Sá said he had been told nothing officially, but he is clearly smiling broadly.
Lusa concludes that it has tried to press the ministry of economy for further information on Colt Resources, and the so-called “extinction” of its various contracts, but has so far got no answers.
Meantime, the telephones of Colt and Eurocolt directors appear to be switched off, while elsewhere the company has stopped trading on the Tokyo and Frankfurt stock exchanges.