Montalegre prepares for new lithium protests

Montalegre prepares for new lithium protests

Civic movement is fighting plans for open-pit/ underground mines and refinery

Civic movement Montalegre Com Vida has called another demonstration, this time for Saturday – the day of the area’s well-known Feira do Fumeiro (“smoked ham fair”) –  against plans for lithium mining – with emphasis on the amount of water the activity will use. 

Talking to Lusa, Armando Pinto, leader of the association, said: “Our aim is, once again, to alert to the impact of the Romano mine, and the environmental impact study (EIA) that is currently under analysis, and the gaps that it presents.

“It is said in the EIA that they (the concession known as Lusorecursos Portugal Lithium) will use about 10 thousand cubic metres of water per day, which is something huge. In other words, this Romano mine project will use more in a day than the municipality will use in a month. This is something we cannot accept“, he said.

The area’s Alto Rabagão dam (Pisões) fell to historic lows during the drought last year – and even now, after all the rain that has fallen since October, it is still not even at half  capacity.

As Armando Pinto told Lusa, “In a year like this of drought, we wanted to know what would be the option (if lithium mining went ahead): would it be to leave the public without water so that the project could stay on track?

And beyond the capacity of pisões dam, Pinto stressed that mining activity would also  compromise people’s boreholes and water sources.

“A project that consumes this amount of water cannot be a viable project,” he said, recalling studies presented by Nova de Lisboa, Porto, Minho and Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro universities, all of which “are unanimous in rejecting this type of project”.

“We cannot remain silent”, he told Lusa – “and so once again we are going out on the streets to show our discontent and alert to the consequences of mining. 

“We want to show that the issue is not forgotten, that we will continue in our fight.

The demonstration is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, in the town square, followed by a parade through the streets of the town, passing through the main avenue, next to the multi-purpose pavilion, where the fair will be taking place.   

The public consultation of the EIA of the Romano mine project ended in May, with 511 submissions submitted on the portal Participa

This was one of the largest submissions ever recorded for mining projects.

The EIA for the mine envisages a mixed exploration (open-pit and underground), as well as the construction of a refinery for ore processing, concludes Lusa – whose report did not allude to the nature of Lusorecursos Portugal Lithium, a company created at the last minute in order to present this plan, and involving one shareholder cited in “one of the largest fraud’s in EU community funding in this country’s living memory“, according to investigative journalists reporting for Sexta às 9 back in 2019.