Uranium deposit not to be probed

NO GEOLOGICAL survey will be carried out at the uranium deposit in the Kurišková area near Košice for now.

People protested against uranium mining.People protested against uranium mining. (Source: TASR)

This is the result from the April 16 decision by the Environment Ministry which said it stopped the decade-long dispute between the company that wanted to probe the locality and environmental activists who opposed doing so. 

The company, however, already said it is prepared to turn to courts with a lawsuit against the state.

“With this decision, the time that has been traumatising the whole of Slovakia and inhabitants of Košice and the nearby villages for the entire decade ends,” Environment Minister Peter Žiga told the press, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

No to extended permission

The Environment Ministry put a definite stop to Ludovika Energy company that had originally received permission to carry out the survey in 2005. Though it was valid only until 2009, the company succeeded in having it prolonged until 2015. Furthermore, the company asked for another extension of an additional 10 years, with validity expiring in 2025. It claimed it wanted to study the possible existence of rare ores in the locality, the Sme daily wrote.

The recent decision only confirms a previous order from February when the ministry also refused to prolong the permission, saying that the company did not meet the legal conditions and that it had enough time to carry out its research, TASR reported. The permission will expire on April 20.

Read also:Controversy around uranium deposit near Košice continues, no end in sightRead more 

“The company will submit an application to set a new surveying locality in order to carry out a new geological task,” according to the statement of Ludovika Energy, as quoted by the SITA newswire, adding it will focus the survey on rare ores in the area. 

The company also repeated its previous claim that it will turn to court to re-assess the ministry decision. It claimed in the past that it had already invested €23 million into the survey and declared that it would lose some $616 million in profit, Sme wrote.

The ministry, however, says it is prepared for such a possibility.

“We are not afraid of arbitration or the courts,” Žiga said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “We have observed the valid laws.”

The decision was welcomed by Greenpeace Slovensko.

“We do not see any reason to prolong the geographical survey in this locality,” Pavol Široký of Greenpeace said in a press release. “Ten years is enough for a foreign private company to survey the area and persuade the public about the benefits of its plans.”

He noted that Ludovika Energy did not talk seriously to the public seriously but rather attacked it.

Fight for Kurišková

Though the locality of Kurišková (or Čermeľ-Jahodná) reportedly has among the best global deposits of uranium, the problem is that it lies close to the second-biggest Slovak city of Košice, and its weekend and holiday destination Jahodná.

In response to the plans of Ludovika Energy (previously known as Kremnica Gold), environmentalists and local residents launched the biggest environmental petition in the country between 2005 and 2009, signed by more than 113,000 people, Sme reported. 

Despite this, the Economy Ministry signed a memorandum in December 2012 with the investor about mining the deposit. 

However, the protests continued. In response, the country conditioned getting permission for launching the mining with the consent of involved municipalities, as expressed in a local referendum. Under the rules, which came into force in June 2014, companies that complete a geological survey will need to ask the affected municipalities to hold referendums in which people can express their agreement or disagreement with the mining.

The amendment also contains a proposal by Košice Mayor Richard Raši (Smer) in which mining in both Košice and Bratislava will require holding a referendum with attendance by residents of the whole city, not just the affected borough, SITA wrote.

While the Environment Ministry claimed the change should give more powers to people when deciding over a new mining operation, activists suggest that the state did not ban uranium mining in Slovakia but only set conditions for it. 

“With the referendum, the state got rid of the duty to maintain citizens’ constitutional rights on health and a healthy environment to which the author of the amendment refers in the explanation,” Košice activist Ladislav Rovinský said, as quoted by SITA.

Activists say that mining of radioactive ores should be banned in the master plan.

With press reports

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