AS OF June 15 the mining of radioactive materials will be allowed only if people living in an affected area approve it in a referendum. This stems from an amendment to the geological act passed in parliament on June 3.

The proposal, discussed in a fast-tracked proceeding, received the support of the 122 MPs present, the TASR newswire reported.

Environment Minister Peter Žiga explained that since 2010 the affected municipalities have had the right to veto a geological survey that would take place prior to mining. This, however, does not affect Jahodná near Košice, where the potential investor was granted permission to conduct a survey in 2005. This survey should be finished in April 2015, according to the minister.

The company will subsequently have to ask six nearby villages to organise a referendum. Only after receiving approval will it be able to ask for permission to mine there, Žiga explained, as reported by TASR.

The new law will not apply to the mining of gold. For companies interested in gold mining in Kremnica and Detva (both in Banská Bystrica Region), the mining authorities decide whether to grant permission for mining, the minister explained.

Currently, there are three localities with deposits of radioactive substances: Považský Inovec (Trenčín Region), Novoveská Huta and Jahodná (both in Košice Region). Žiga does not expect the mining companies to respond to the amendment by filing lawsuits against Slovakia, TASR wrote.

MPs also passed an amending proposal submitted by Richard Raši (Smer) which stipulates that in case of Bratislava and Košice, all citizens, and not just those in the affected city boroughs, will decide whether to allow mining. This came in response to concerns that one city borough could agree to the mining while the rest could oppose it, as reported by TASR.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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