Spanish media are reporting that between 3,000 and 5,000 people hailing from different cities in Spain, as well as from Portugal and France, rallied this weekend in Salamanca to express their rejection to a uranium mine being built in the Retortillo municipality.
The Salamanca project is Berkeley Energia’s flagship mine and is located on the Retortillo-Santidad uranium deposit, in the northwestern part of the country. The open-pit mine is expected to produce an average of 4.4 million pounds of uranium per year.
For months, however, the plan has been a target of numerous actions by environmentalist groups, the most recent one organized by the Iberian Antinuclear Movement, whose members advocate for the closure of all nuclear energy projects.
Talking to local journalists, the activists said they decided to march this weekend to take advantage of the current political atmosphere, shaken by the designation of Pedro Sánchez as the new Prime Minister following the corruption scandal that led to Mariano Rajoy’s firing through a vote of no confidence.
According to the demonstrators, uranium exploitation in Salamanca would have serious environmental impacts both in Spain and Portugal. They also said that the project does not make economic sense because of low uranium prices, because it would create very few job opportunities for the local people and because the trend in Europe is to shut down these types of mines due to the dangerous pollution they cause.
Yet, in previous statements, Berkeley has said that the Salamanca Project will provide over 450 direct and 2,000 indirect jobs in the area, “which has seen crippling unemployment following the ceasing of previous mining activities.”
The London/Salamanca-based miner has also said that its proposal adheres “to the highest EU environmental and safety standards, regarded as the most rigorous in the world.”
Prior to this weekend’s protest, Berkeley announced that on June 6 it became the only Spanish mining company listed on the main board of the London Stock Exchange.