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Controversy around uranium deposit near Košice continues, no end in sight

THE LOCALITY of Kurišková (or Čermeľ-Jahodná) near Košice is among the allegedly best global deposits of uranium; however, it lies close to the second-biggest Slovak city of Košice, and its weekend and holiday destination Jahodná.

Locals protested against the uranium mining.(Source: TASR)

Thus environmentalists and local inhabitants launched the biggest environmental petition in the country between 2005 and 2009, singed by more than 113,000 people. Despite this, the Economy Ministry signed a memorandum in December 2012 with the investor, about the use of the deposit.

An amendment to the geological law from 2014 conditions any mining with the consent of municipalities involved, as expressed in a referendum. This is not probable in this case, but the mother company, Ludovika Energy, continues searching for investors.

It stresses the lowest possible expenses to shareholders; while also promising the highest environmental standards to inhabitants. “One thing excludes the other,” Karol Labaš of the Slovak Association of Protectors of Nature and Landscape (SZOPK)  explained for the Sme daily.

The first approval from the state came in 2005 to the Kremnica Gold company which was then renamed to Ludovica Holding and still later to Ludovica Energy.

Read also: Read also:Uranium deposit not to be probed

The company acquired permission to explore the deposit, and now it has applied for prolonging this deadline. The Environment Ministry refused this request in the first instance, but Ludovica Energy appealed, and this week, minister Peter Žiga should decide again.

Experts and insiders fear that with this step, the company is only trying to win some time – as it has a pre-emptive right which expires one year after the end of exploration. Labaš also suggested that the deposit near Košice may be attractive to investors of an otherwise not very well-prospering company.

However, the company involved deems the potential refusal to prolong the ten-year license illegal and is threatening with international arbitration.

The ministry has refused to comment on the situation, citing the effort to prevent any pre-judgment or bias.

Boris Bartalský of Ludovica Energy told Sme that it is hard to say which municipalities would be touched by the mining, and that they would anyway prefer underground mining with a tunnel three kilometres long.

Environmentalists oppose that the location of the deposit – a mere six kilometres from Košice – is very disadvantageous, and that although the mining itself would probably last for 13 to 15 years, the environmental risks and burdens will remain for many decades more. 

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