Political party PAN has spoken out against the possibility of mining exploration in the Algarve boroughs of Castro Marim and Alcoutim.
“The request for mineral exploration and research rights, including gold and silver, by the company EMISURMIN, based in Lisbon and predominantly owned by Spanish capital, is a matter of great concern for PAN Algarve,” the party’s regional delegation has said in a statement to the press.
According to PAN, there are four main reasons why mineral exploration in the two boroughs poses threats, starting with the risks that local biodiversity would be exposed to.
“Mineral exploration poses a concrete threat, irreversibly compromising the environmental preservation of the region. Aquifers and sensitive habitats are of utmost importance for the sustainability of the delicate ecosystems present. The Iberian lynx, a highly vulnerable species, is classified as “Endangered” by the respected International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Disturbing mineral exploration directly threatens the survival of this feline and its population, and also impacts the availability of essential food resources for this emblematic species,” the party states.
PAN also believes that mining could threaten sustainable tourism and local economic development, particularly in two municipalities such as Alcoutim and Castro Marim which rely on their “stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage.
“Mineral exploration would directly threaten this sector, compromising the sustainable economic development of the area. Furthermore, the party does not foresee a positive impact in terms of employment opportunities for the Algarve,” it adds.
The agricultural sector, which plays an “essential role” in the region, could also be jeopardised by the mining plans.
“Mineral exploration can jeopardise the quality of water used in agriculture, affecting food security and the livelihoods of local farmers. This situation will primarily affect small-scale producers,” it says.
Last but not least, PAN believes that the project could worsen the Algarve’s drought situation even further.
“The excessive use of water resources in mining activities, combined with contamination from the release of toxic chemicals, can compromise the quality of water sources. This affects local ecosystems and water supply for communities, rendering it unsuitable for human consumption and other uses. It is essential to carefully assess the potential impacts of mineral exploration on local water resources, especially in areas of severe drought, in order to preserve water quality and availability for future generations,” the party adds.