The tension due to the opening of the Ilovica-Štuka mine still does not settle. In the public, the media, on the spot and in the cabinet, there are still two opposing stands in relation to the mine.
First party, the opponents of the mines, announce guerrilla actions and permanently warm up the atmosphere through campaigns and protests, pointing out the arguments regarding the threat to the environment as well as the life and health of the citizens of Strumica.
The other party, the project leader Euromax, presents arguments related to responsible, safe and modern mining. Their additional arguments are local economic development, employment, overall sustainable development, co-existence of agriculture and clean mining technologies, as well as socially responsible business.
Opponents of the mine openly threatened with “a demonstration exercise that could possibly turn into a total blockade in the southeast in the near future,” adding that the government did not respect the laws and clearly expressed will of the citizens to seize the concession for the Ilovica-Štuka mine.
“We want to send a message that our basin should not allow contamination, but to ensure future generations to enjoy the benefits that we currently enjoy, to preserve a healthy environment.
If we allow the opening of such a mine, projections from the world’s frameworks indicate that it takes two thousand years for the environment to return to normal, that is to return to normal living conditions, “said Cvetanco Gorgiev from Novo Selo.
The Canadian company Eurmax Resources, which builds this mine, says the project meets the highest North Macedonian and world standards and regulations for a sustainable ecological project.
“Euromax as a company that develops the largest greenfield investment in the country is fully committed to safe, responsible and modern mining. The essence of our values is the commitment to protecting local health and the environment. In local residents and institutions, we see long-term economic partners with common economic interests. Ilovica-Štuka is a project in which mining and agriculture co-exist together, “the company’s officials pointed out.
According to eco-activist from the initiative “Spas for the Strumica Basin” Krum Velkov, if the Ilovica-Štuk mine is open, this will mean the mass eviction of the inhabitants of Strumica.
“It’s the biggest mine and the biggest bio-ecological threat in Southeast Europe. In fact, the mine will cause eco-genocide, because as a polluting industry of magnificent proportions this mine will bring enormous pollution with the chemical agents, most of which are life-threatening. Only to mention thallium, cadmium and arsenic, the king of poisons, which by digging will be released as sulphates from the soil and then converted into deadly sulphonic acid, “highlighted Velkov. He adds that all legal conditions for the seizure of the concession have been met and that the Prime Minister promised that the mine will be stopped.
According to Velkov, the resistance against the mine is getting wider and wider, with young people from the most endangered villages, Štuka and Ilovica joining them, and even if a permit for the work of the mine is issued, in the entire valley an even broader front will appear, which will be much more radical than the previous warning protests.
“The mining problem is time-consuming and turns into a public trauma and destabilization, a kind of indicator of the country’s powerlessness. This is an unsustainable situation. If the state does not protect us, we will protect ourselves. For us, this is a question of survival. From this perspective, we do not have the intention, nor the right to make compromises, and we will fight until the end, “says Velkov.
Recently, representatives of Euromax have made a statement for the New Macedonia that as a serious company for 15 years they have been conducting land, water and air pollution researches, as well as potential environmental impacts. They believe that the views of the project opponents are far from the truth.
“We are doing everything according to the highest standards, minimal marginal impacts for noise, dust and air pollution are determined, and measures are foreseen, in the case of event of a moderate or negligible impact. Mostly there is a slight influence. As for agricultural concern, no part of agricultural land is taken, and there is no impact on the groundwater or on the surface water, nor there will be an impact on agriculture.
We can even say that there will be fluctuations in the population, the increase in the number of inhabitants and employments, increase in food needs, growth of the cattle and agricultural crops cultivation, “the company said.
The struggle of attitudes and arguments continues. One party is preparing a far more radical approach regarding warning protests, while the other side is calm, confident in the truthfulness and correctness of its arguments, expecting the resolution of the current black and white status of the Ilovica-Štuka project.