Canadian company Euromax Resources Ltd, developing the Ilovica-Stuka mine, has taken a decisive stance: it will use neither cyanide nor sulfuric acid as there will be no gold mining at all!
The company explains that due to the elimination of cyanide from the ore treatment, the primary product of the Ilovica-Stuka project will be copper, and not gold and copper as previously announced.
“The main method for processing ore is flotation, the physical process used for production of copper concentrate, which will then be transported to a smelter in Bulgaria, where gold will be obtained as a product,” said Borka Kovacevic, Euromax coordinator.
Taking into account the opinion of the general population and the local community, the company management decided to use neither cyanide, nor sulfuric acid in the treatment of ore, stated the company.
As many as 500 new direct jobs and more than 2,700 indirect jobs will be created by the opening of the mine. The contribution of the project to Macedonia’s GDP will amount to 3%, with tax revenues estimated at 24 million euros a year, says Kovacevic.
She added that study on the impact of the mine on soil, water and air has been carried out for 15 years.
“The study establishes the possible consequences; everything is conducted according to the highest standards, with minimal limit values with respect to noise, dust, air pollution; the measures are determined in case of a medium or minor impact. In most cases, there is only minor impact. Regarding agriculture, not even a smallest piece of agricultural land has been appropriated for mining, and there is no impact on ground or surface water, i.e. there is no impact on agriculture. We even predict an increase in population, increase in employment rate, higher food demand, and subsequent increase in livestock and agricultural crops, too,” Kovacevic said.
Not without reason, the local population is concerned that the whole area will be covered in dust, but Euromax firmly promises that this will not happen as dust will be treated with water.
On the other hand, environmentalists still have the same opinion about the consequences of the mine operations. The two sides announce that each other’s arguments should be confronted, that academics and experts should be involved in the discussion in the best interest of the public and the truth.
Regarding the new method and plan for the management of the Ilovica-Stuka mine, involving no use of cyanide and sulfuric acid, eco-activist Krum Velkov says that “even though sulfuric acid may not be used in the technological process, it will still be produced through the process.”
“It will not be used, but will be produced. How? Excavated sulfates of thallium, cadmium and arsenic, which inevitably occur with ores containing copper and gold, will reach surface soil and air. In contact with air, sulfates are converted into sulfate oxide, which subsequently turns into sulfuric acid in contact with water,” explains Velkov.
He emphasizes that in this context, sulfates are compared with a “sleeping beast”, because, once woken up by mining, they kill everything alive. Velkov adds that even without the use of cyanide, as a result of the mine operations, heavy metals and chemicals polluting water, air and soil will appear; the water will have a reduced ph value and increased concentrations of zinc, aluminum, arsenic, copper, iron, nitrates, sulfates, sulfuric acids, metal complexes, cyanides, selenium, manganese, cadmium, and others, all of which are deadly. The air will be contaminated with toxic dust from explosions, while radioactive strontium and uranium will also be released through mining; the sixth highest dam in the world will be built, in the height of “horrifying 276 meters”. It will be four times higher than the Turia dam, claimed by the Euromax study to be unsafe.
Regarding Euromax’s claim that gold will be obtained from the copper concentrate, which will be carried out in Bulgaria, Velkov claims that this does not make any economic sense, since it would take more than 2,000 trucks per day to transport this huge amount of ore to Bulgaria, which is not feasible.
About the promise that the dust will be “neutralized” by water, Velkov says it seems incredible, because about 10,000 tons of dust per day will require huge amounts of water, and the company does not have water supplied for the main project.
As there was no quorum for voting on the amendments to the Mineral Resources Act, Parliament did not vote on amendments to the Mineral Resources Act. Amendments were submitted by several deputies, supported by a large number of NGOs.
MP Liljana Popovska explains that the amendments stipulate a ban on the use of cyanide and sulfuric acid in the process of leaching and flotation of metallic mineral resources in open pit mines with the exemption of the concessions for the exploitation of metallic mineral resources in existing mines.