web summit (4).jpg

Residents’ petition against Monchique mining project

By PAULO SILVESTRE [email protected]

Residents have claimed that a planned mining project in the hills of Monchique is in an environmentally protected area.

FELMICA-Minerais Industriais S.A, a company which extracts and processes raw materials for the ceramic and glass industry, has asked for permission to explore for feldspar mineral deposits in an area which covers a total of 1,612 square metres on the south side of Picota, between Fornalha and Alto de Baixo, in the municipality of Monchique.

Residents and business owners first heard about the plan when they saw a notice from the Energy and Geology General Directorate (DGEG), about the concession for mineral exploration to FELMICA in Jornal de Monchique on January 31.

The original notice had been posted in the government’s official newspaper Diário da República before it was published by Jornal de Monchique.

The matter is now being considered by the government, who will have the final say in the granting of permission.

Local residents have created an online petition against the proposal, which they intend to present to the DGEG.

“The government seems willing to give the rights to prospect minerals in an open mine to a private company in the Serra de Monchique. This is an ecological site and one of the most beautiful parts of the Algarve. It is home to the Bonelli’s Eagle and the Iberian Lynx. Many small projects for sustainable tourism are developing here and the wonderful Via Algarviana passes through these mountains,” they claim on the petition.

A local resident who asked not to be named told the Algarve Resident: “How could this happen without anyone being previously consulted or informed? This project covers an extensive area, which, besides being inhabited, is part of the European ecological network of protected areas Natura 2000 and the National Ecological Network. Also located in this area is the oldest oak in Portugal.”

A spokesman from DGEG said that the project will not affect the environment because “all impact studies possible are being carried out”.

He told the Algarve Resident: “We are here to inform people about the project and what is intended for the area. These projects take a long time to be approved due to their nature and number of environmental issues that need to be drawn up. If approved by the government, the works will not be starting for another three years.”

He added: “The project will only progress if the government considers it economically viable. We are studying what is viable within the Natura 2000 regulations and all adjustments will be made in accordance with this network in order to minimise any damage to the environment of the area.”

He said that there was no reason for alarm among local residents: “People should not be alarmed because this project will only go ahead with the approval of all parties – residents, Câmara and parish councils – and our obligation is to hear people’s opinions and not affect land owners and the environment.”

Do you have a view on this story? Please email Inês Lopes at [email protected]