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Current Accusations Against Tara Resources, the Concessionaire, Found to Be Unsubstantiated

The most likely outcome, if the concession agreement for the Brskovo mine is terminated, is that the concessionaire, Tara Resources, will initiate arbitration against Montenegro, stated Luka Popović, the lawyer representing the Swiss company.

He attended today’s meeting of the Interdepartmental Working Group for the preparation of an expert analysis of the concession agreement for detailed geological exploration and exploitation of sulfide polymetallic ore at the exploration-exploitation area of the former Brskovo mine.

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“We emphasized during the work that the Government must be aware that the working group needs to indicate the risks of this procedure and that, if the concession agreement were to be terminated, it is not the only potential risk of domestic court and litigation before a domestic court, but there is a potential risk of international investment arbitration since the investor, the owner of the concession company, is a Swiss company, and considering that there is a mutual agreement between Switzerland and Montenegro on the protection and promotion of investments which gives investors from signatory states the right to initiate arbitration against the other state in case of violation of their rights,” Popović said.

So far, the working group has discussed the legal aspects of the annex to the concession agreement and the facts that the relevant ministry considers to be relevant for assessing whether there is a breach of the agreement and grounds for termination.

As the representative of the concessionaire, Popović believes that there is no basis for termination of the agreement.

“The obligations of the investor at this stage of the concession agreement are to develop project documentation and obtain all permits based on that documentation, and it cannot do so until the Government adopts spatial plans and issues urban-technical conditions as the first document in the permit acquisition process. That is the responsibility of the Government,” Popović added.

However, this meeting also passed in a tumultuous atmosphere with different conflicting opinions. Councilor in the Municipal Assembly of Mojkovac, Miloš Rajković, reiterated claims that carrying out works on the territory of the former Brskovo mine would have negative consequences for the environment, human health, and the cultural memory surrounding that area.

“Whoever starts digging and excavating there must know that blood was shed somewhere and that it did not bring him any profit – neither business, personal, family, nor do I believe this issue will end well. They violated the annexes and accepted responsibility for not issuing urban-technical conditions, the contractor withdrew from the draft Detailed Spatial Plan,” Rajković stated.

Popović dismissed all these accusations and reminded that nothing has changed in the life of the concession agreement since the period when annexes five and six were concluded, extending the deadlines for the completion of the permit acquisition phase.

“We have provided arguments why none of the allegations made stand and why they are not relevant at this time. Most of the facts related to environmental protection, which were presented during the work of the working group, relate to the period that is yet to come. The discussion about the project’s impact on the environment can come to the agenda when you have a specific mining project that has been revised in accordance with the regulations, and when an environmental impact assessment study is done alongside that project,” Popović explained.


Source: Montenegro Business

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