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(last updated 9 Sep 2017)
The following companies are performing uranium prospection and/or exploration in Spain: Berkeley Resources Ltd, Areva NC, Mawson Resources Ltd.
On March 24, 2009, the Council of Government of the region Castilla-La Mancha approved a decree that prohibits the exploration of the Mazarete uranium deposit, which will prevent any future commercial mining of the mineral at the site. The Council thus blocks the possibility opened in February by the central Government. The administrative preparations for the exploration at Aragoncillo I and II continue as planned, however. (Ecologistas en Acción de Guadalajara March 25, 2009)
The Spanish Cabinet has lifted the exclusive right for ENUSA (granted in July 1987) to explore and mine for uranium in the "Mazarete Guadalajara" area, located in the north of the province of Guadalajara. The lifting paves the way for the intentions of Minera de Río Alagón S.L, a subsidiary of Berkeley Resources Ltd, that in October 2008 presented two exploration projects for 13 towns of the territory in the Sierra de Aragoncillo, where test pits were already realised in the 1980's. (Blanca Corrales Feb. 20, 2009)
> Opposition: Stop Uranio , Ecologistas en Acción
Superior Court admits appeal filed by city council against waste water discharge permit for Retortillo uranium mine project:
The Superior Court of Justice of Castilla y León (TSJCyL) has admitted to the administrative appeal filed by the Town Council of Villavieja de Yeltes against the resolution of the Duero Hydrographic Confederation (CHD) to authorize the discharge of waste water from of the project for the extraction and treatment of uranium minerals within the limits of Retortillo and Villavieja, requested by the company Berkeley Minera España.
On January 20, 2016, the CHD issued a decision on 'Authorization for the discharge of wastewater' from the uranium mining and extraction operation requested by Berkeley in the municipalities of Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes. Just twenty days later, on February 11, the City of Villavieja presented allegations against the proposal and the CHD resolved dismissing them in their entirety, which resulted in the City Council formalizing, on June 23 of that same year, a reinstatement appeal against the resolution of discharge authorization. Again, on May 3, 2017 the CHD dismissed all the allegations made by the City of Villavieja de Yeltes, which ended the administrative route. Dissatisfied with this resolution, on July 7, 2017, the City Council presented to the Supreme Court of Castilla y León a contentious-administrative appeal against this decision, which admitted it to proceed and was thus communicated to the Consistory on Monday, September 4. (Salamanca RTV al día - Las Arribes al día, Sep. 8, 2017)
Attorney General criticizes Berkeley and state government for holding back EIS on Retortillo uranium mine project: The prosecutor of the Joint Group of the Courts of Castilla y León and regional coordinator of IU-Equo, José Sarrión, has criticized that neither the Berkeley company nor the Spanish State have allowed the European Commission to publish official information concerning the mine project of uranium that the company wants to launch in Retortillo. (Tribuna de Salamanca Sep. 4, 2017)
Attorney General urges regional government to draft new EIS on Retortillo uranium mine project:
In response to complaints filed against the uranium mining and extraction project promoted by the company Berkeley in the municipality of Retortillo, the Common Prosecutor of Castilla y León has issued a resolution urging the Junta de Castilla y León to initiate a new environmental impact assessment procedure on the project.
The resolution is based on the fact that the project has undergone major modifications after the EIS was prepared. The resolution is not binding, but it puts more doubts on the project and opens the legal way more. (Salamanca RTV al día - Las Arribes al día, Aug. 31, 2017)
Oman to fund Retortillo uranium mine project: On Aug. 30, 2017, Berkeley Energia announced that it has entered into an investment agreement with the sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman agreeing to invest up to US$120 million to fully fund the Salamanca mine into production. The investment will position the fund as a long term strategic investor in the Company as well as a potential offtake partner.
500 people demonstrate against Retortillo uranium mine project: About 500 participants joined a protest gathering held by the Stop Uranio platform in La Fuente de San Esteban against the Retortillo uranium mine project. (Tribuna de Salamanca Aug. 19, 2017)
Retortillo uranium mine project obtains construction permit:
The Territorial Commission for the Environment and Urbanism, at its meeting held on Thursday (July 20), approved the solitude presented by the mining company Berkeley for the change of exceptional use of rustic soil of the lands on which the mining project for the extraction of uranium In the municipality of Retortillo. For this, it has been necessary to qualify this public interest project and it has been agreed by the majority of the members of the commission formed by representatives of different administrations and entities, as well as social agents.
This decision will allow the mining company Berkeley to begin construction of the project's mining facilities, so that the company shows its "satisfaction in confirming the excellent work that has been carried out during these 10 years." For the mining company, "this resolution confirms our investment in the project, which allows us to accelerate the hiring process by creating more than 2,500 direct and indirect jobs in a region suffering from high levels of unemployment."
In this sense, the miner recalls that "to date, we have invested more than 70 million euros in the project, with the highest standards of quality in the environment, health and safety, and we will continue in this line, with the Idea of investing more than 250 million euros in the next years".
For their part, some mayors of the region consider that this decision of the Commission has been adopted "against the majority opinion of the inhabitants of the area" represented by about 40 mayors who are opposed to the project. (Salamanca RTV al día - Las Arribes al día, July 20, 2017)
European Commission opens investigation into Retortillo uranium mine:
The European Commission has opened an investigation into Spain about the uranium mine that an Australian multinational tries to exploit in a depopulated region of Salamanca, a few kilometers from the border with Portugal. If inaugurated, it would be the only open-cast mining of this radioactive mineral in Western Europe. Brussels is investigating whether the project complies with various provisions of European Union legislation, including the Environmental Impact Directive and the Habitats Directive.
The investigation has opened "following several complaints and written questions," says European Commissioner for the Environment, Karmenu Vella, in a written response to the European Parliament, which has been accessed by El País. The Habitats directive protects the natural environments and populations of wild species of the European Union. The Environmental Impact Directive assesses the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment.
Vella's reply states that "in accordance with the Habitats Directive, any project that may have a significant impact on a Natura 2000 site must be properly evaluated", adding that countries can only approve one of those Projects "if they have verified that it will not adversely affect the integrity of the place in question".
The uranium mine which is being exploited by the Berkeley company will affect two areas protected by Natura 2000, the European environmental network: a LIC (Community Interest Site) and a SPA (Special Bird Protection Area). There is also evidence in the area of several species of protected fauna, such as the black stork, the kite and the alimoche, endangered or classified as "vulnerable", according to the positive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Project the Junta de Castilla y León.
The European Commission also recalls in its written reply that Spain has not fulfilled its obligation to inform Brussels properly of such a project. Uranium mining is an operation which falls within the scope of Article 37 of the Euratom Treaty and therefore obliges the licensing Member State to submit all relevant information. "The Commission has reminded Spain of this obligation," said the reply, dated 26 June. (El País July 5, 2017)
Territorial Commission grants another six months to answer submissions filed against change of land use requested for Retortillo uranium mine project:
The Territorial Commission of Environment and Urbanism of Salamanca has decided to maintain the suspension of the procedure of 'Authorization of exceptional use in rustic soil' for the uranium mine of Retortillo until the more than 1,500 allegations presented in the process of public information are answered out.
It has also decided that it is the Territorial Development Service of the Junta de Castilla y León in Salamanca that resolves these allegations in the absence of response to them by the City of Retortillo, among other reasons, the absence of the secretary. Therefore, it has been agreed to grant a period of six months in order that the allegations are answered by technical staff. (Salamanca RTV al día - Las Arribes al día May 25, 2017)
Court authorizes cutting of oak trees for Retortillo uranium mine project: Berkeley will continue with the task of opening the uranium mine in Retortillo after Administrative Litigation Court number 2 has authorized the company to do so. This has been confirmed by sources of the multinational who, after the oral hearing last Wednesday, has obtained judicial permission to carry out these tasks. Among the work is the logging of oaks, one of the reasons given by environmental organizations and led the same court to suspend them in a precautionary manner. (Tribuna de Salamanca Apr. 28, 2017)
Court preliminarily suspends cutting of oak trees for Retortillo uranium mine project: In response to the request made by the Stop Uranium Platform, the Court of Administrative Litigation number 2 of Salamanca has ordered the company Berkeley to cease oak logging as a precautionary measure until the preview that will take place on April 26. (Salamanca RTV al día - Las Arribes al día Apr. 19, 2017)
Berkeley continues cutting of oaks in spite of government suspension of construction works at Retortillo uranium mine:
The Ministry of Energy has suspended the procedure of authorization of the construction of the plant of Retortillo "indefinitely" until the Nuclear Safety Council decides on it. It ordered to stop all preparatory work, including oak logging.
The Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda has suspended the procedure of authorization of the construction of the plant of Retortillo (Salamanca) "indefinitely" until the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) issues a mandatory report. So the Government has replied in writing to a parliamentary question from the deputy of the Unidos Podemos-En comú Podem-En Mare, Juan López de Uralde, in connection with the construction of the aforementioned plant, considered by the regulatory body "first category radioactive installation".
However, López de Uralde explained to Europa Press that the holding company, Berkeley Minera, despite the suspension, has "continued with its plans", which includes "the harvesting of hundreds of centenarian oaks in the place of its construction". Therefore, it demands from the Government "the immediate stoppage of all the works that Berkeley is doing in the area of Retortillo." (Tribuna de Salamanca Mar. 28, 2017)
Provincial Prosecutor investigates alleged lack of permits for construction works at Retortillo uranium mine: Now, the Provincial Prosecutor of Salamanca has admitted to processing the complaint filed by the Stop Uranium platform on February 17 on the beginning of construction of the project without allegedly having the relevant documents and permits. (El País Mar. 17, 2017)
Several hundred people protest against massive felling of oaks for Retortillo uranium mine project:
Several hundreds of people have supported this Sunday (Mar. 5) in the town of Retortillo the protest convened by the Salamanca Antinuclear Collective and the Stop Uranium Platform against the massive felling of oaks that is being carried out by the mining company Berkeley in order to construct an open pit uranium mine in this place.
For the groups opposing the project, "several generations of inhabitants of the region will miss the opportunity to enjoy a unique space, because, even if oaks are replanted, due to their slow growth it will take at least a century to leave the area as it has been until a mining company laid eyes on this corner of Salamanca." (Las Arribes al día, Mar. 5, 2017)
WWF denounces to the European Commission the largest uranium mine in Europe at Retortillo in the heart of a protected area: WWF has sent a report to the European Commission denouncing the serious environmental impacts of the construction of the largest uranium mine and mill in Europe by the Australian mining company Berkeley Energía in the Red Natura 2000 area "Riberas de los Ríos Huebras, Yeltes, Uces and tributaries", in Salamanca. Among the most serious impacts is the probable extinction of the Salmon sardine, a protected species of fish. The organization strongly opposes this project which will lead to the destruction of a Red Natura 2000 area with unique habitats, but it will also put the local economy at risk, immediately ending traditional activities such as cattle farming or rural and thermal tourism . (WWF Spain, Feb. 6, 2017)
Construction of Retortillo uranium mill to start in first quarter of 2017: The Australian company Berkeley announced Tuesday (Dec. 6) in London that, thanks to the recent $ 30 million capital increase it has made, it has completed the acquisition of "main plots" needed for the construction of the mine that it wants to start up in the town of Rertortillo. Berkeley currently owns "more than 500 hectares of land", which includes - according to the company - most of the infrastructure work and the ore processing plant, in addition to the electrical substation, Storage of reagents and buildings. The company plans to begin construction of the ore processing plant by the end of the first quarter of 2017. (Salamanca RTV al día, Dec. 7, 2016)
Retortillo spa users protest against uranium mine project, declare mayor and mining company "non grata": On Nov. 10, 2016, a protest was held at the Retortillo spa against the uranium mine project. 156 users, currently lodged in the spa, gathered outside the spa to show their protest. They also prepared a letter declaring the mayor of Retortillo and the mining company "non grata" - in response to the city council's decision to declare two members of the Platform Stop Uranium "persona non grata". (Salamanca RTV al día, Nov. 10, 2016)
500 people demonstrate against Retortillo uranium mine project:
Around five hundred people, according to the convener Platform Stop Uranium, gathered on Sunday (Oct. 30) at Berkeley Minera's facilities in Retortillo to protest against the opening of the uranium mine in this location.
The protest was attended by representatives and municipal officials from different political parties (PSOE, IU, CAN, EQUO) plus inhabitants of nearby towns such as Villavieja de Yeltes, Villares de Yeltes, Boada and Yecla de Yeltes, who "have been the protagonists of this day of struggle". These were joined by several property owners affected by the mine and the diversion of the road, opposed to the project, and who refuse to sell their land to the mining company. (Salamanca RTV al día, Oct. 30, 2016)
Retortillo city council declares two members of the Stop Uranium Platform and the platform itself "persona non grata": The full City Council of Retortillo has unanimously approved - with the votes in favor of the Socialist and Popular groups - to declare 'persona non grata' the activists Jesús Cruz and José Ramón Barrueco and the Platform Stop Uranium, people who have shown on several occasions their discomfort with the reopening of the uranium mine in the town. (Tribuna de Salamanca Oct. 18, 2016)
Retortillo city council plans to declare two members of the Stop Uranium Platform "persona non grata": The municipality of the town of Retortillo in Salamanca will declare non grata two members of the Platform Stop Uranium and the platform itself in the next plenary session, to be held on October 18 at 13.00 in that municipality. The persons in question are Jesús Cruz and José Ramón Barrueco, activists and opponents of the Retortillo uranium mine. (Tribuna de Salamanca Oct. 15, 2016)
More than 1000 people demonstrate against Retortillo uranium mine project: At a demonstration held in Zamora on Oct. 9, more than 1000 people protested against the neglect of the provinces of Salamanca, Zamora, and León, and demanded the stop of the Retortillo uranium mine project. (Salamanca RTV al día Oct. 10, 2016)
Residents of adjacent town unanimously file arguments against Retortillo uranium mine project:
Up to 182 residents of the town of Yecla de Yeltes have presented arguments to prevent the Retortillo City Council to approve the exceptional use of rural land and a planning permission for the uranium mining project promoted by Berkeley Minera España S.L. in that locality. In the brief they argue that there are errors that would invalidate the process of public participation and that the project affects the Natura 2000 network and fails to comply with the rules of the European Union.
It should be noted that Yecla de Yeltes has 276 registered inhabitants and the presentation of 182 claims accounts for 66% of the census, and when taking into account the number of minors and those who actually reside elsewhere, the degree of rejection could described as unanimous.
This same case, or very similar happens in Villares de Yeltes, Villavieja de Yeltes, or Bogajo, to name a few, places all of them in which its inhabitants are very sensitive against this project to potential risks that could result in the disposal of radioactive waste as a result of mining activity or the use of large amounts of water for the extraction of uranium. (Las Arribes al día, Sep. 23, 2016)
Road blockade in protest against Retortillo uranium mine project: The Platform Stop Uranium has focused on Saturday [Aug. 20] at 13.00 at the junction of La Fuente de San Esteban, cutting off the N-620, in protest against mining projects that the Australian company Berkeley wants to develop in the west of the province of Salamanca. (Salamanca RTV al día Aug. 20, 2016)
Positive Definitive Feasiblity Study announced for Salamanca uranium mine project:
On July 14, 2016, Berkeley Energia announced that an "independent Study has confirmed the Salamanca project as one of the world's lowest cost producers capable of generating strong after tax cash flow through the current low point in the uranium price cycle."
> Calculate Mine Feasibility
No reconciliation reached on Berkeley's claim for EUR 500,000 in damages from two activists against Retortillo uranium mine project: As expected, the act of conciliation in the Courts of Ciudad Rodrigo ended without reconciliation. Berkeley now must decide whether to go ahead with the lawsuit, claiming 500,000 euros compensation for damages. (Salamanca RTV al día June 22, 2016)
Groups reject Berkeley's claim for EUR 500,000 in damages from two activists against Retortillo uranium mine project: The response of Equo, Podemos, IU and Ganemos has been a resounding rejection of the demand of the company Berkeley, which claims 500,000 euros compensation for damages from two members of the Stop Uranio platform, Jesús Cruz and José Ramón Berrueco. Both are cited on June 22 in the Courts of Ciudad Rodrigo for an act of conciliation, in which no agreement is expected. (Salamanca RTV al día May 28, 2016)
Protest in Madrid against Salamanca uranium mine project: About thirty people from the project area have demonstrated Thursday (May 5) in Madrid against the opening of the uranium mine planned by Berkeley in the towns of Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes. The protest coincided with the presentation of Berkeley's mining project at the School of Mining Engineers in Madrid. The Stop Uranium platform called for the stoppage of the only project in Europe to establish a uranium mine. (Las Arribes al día, May 6, 2016)
National Court admits appeal against authorization for preliminary infrastructure works at Retortillo uranium mine project: The National Court declared admissible an appeal against the authorization given by the Ministry of Industry in September 2015. The appeal was lodged by Equo and Ecologistas en Acción. (El País Apr. 28, 2016)
50 municipalities oppose Salamanca uranium mine project:
The municipalities integrated in the Commonwealth of Yeltes, Villavieja, Villares de Yeltes, Moronta, Bogajo, Fuenteliante, Pozos de Hinojo and Yecla de Yeltes, managed the interest of fifty mayors of the western part of the province Thursday (Apr. 14) in their position against the proposal of mining company Berkeley for the extraction and treatment of uranium in the municipalities of Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes.
The mayor of the latter town, Jorge Rodríguez, spoke for the Commonwealth to ask the mayors' support in order to urge the Council of Salamanca to take action on behalf of the people and work to prevent the project of Berkeley from continuing, exposing legal reasons that could paralyze the creation of an open pit mine with sky storage of radioactive waste. (Las Arribes al día Apr. 14, 2016)
Mayor of Retortillo resigns for lack of support in fight against Salamanca uranium mine project:
The controversial project to develop a uranium mine in Salamanca, a few kilometers from the border with Portugal, now has a political conflict that has left the municipality of Retortillo without mayor. Lorenzo Calderón, who won election last May with the PSOE [Spanish Socialist Workers' Party], has resigned from his posts as a mayor and as a councilman for "loss of confidence" of his fellow candidates of PSOE, as he says in a letter presented Tuesday (Mar. 29) in the City Council.
His resignation, in a village of just 250 inhabitants in a rural and very unpopulated region, would have no greater significance if it were not on the background of the uranium mine. According to the plans of the company Berkeley Minera Spain, a subsidiary of Australian giant [?!?] Berkeley, this mainly agricultural and ranching community is going to host the only open pit uranium mine across Europe.
Calderón acknowledges that he leaves because he was left alone in the fight against the mining project in the City Council, made up of five councilors, three PSOE (including the mayor) and two PP [People's Party]. His two companions began voting with the PP, and against Calderón when he publicly positioned himself against the uranium mine. (El País Mar. 31, 2016)
Salamanca uranium mine project obtains water use permits: The Duero River Basin Authority has granted the Australian company Berkeley two separate water use permits for the projects of mining and processing of uranium that the company wants to develop in the west of the province of Salamanca. These permits, which were requested in September 2013, allow Berkeley an annual use of up to 1,337,455 cubic meters of water. One of the permits is for surface water, the other for groundwater. (Ciudad Rodrigo al día Mar. 31, 2016)
Opponents of Salamanca uranium mine project plant oak tree:
On Saturday (Mar. 26), partners and supporters of the Stop Uranium platform held a symbolic act of protest in Villavieja de Yeltes against the construction of an open pit uranium mine in the municipalities of Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes (Santidad).
This time the activity was planting an oak.
After noon, residents of Villavieja de Yeltes, Villares de Yeltes, Boada, Retortillo, Sancti-Spíritus and other nearby towns went to the place. Also present were the Mayor of Retortillo, Lorenzo Calderón, the Board of the Platform Stop Uranium and several workers of the Retortillo spa. In addition, some of these were accompanied by their young children.
As noted by the protagonists, "the important thing was to make the hole and plant with our own hands a seedling so that in the future it becomes a sturdy oak and is the symbol of a victory for common sense against the barbarity of this uranium mine project with uranium processing plant and storage of radioactive waste notch, which is planned to be installed in this enviable region of Campo Charro." Stop Uranium wants to repeat this act every Holy Saturday. (Salamanca RTV al día Mar. 27, 2016)
Infrastructure development commences at Salamanca uranium mine project:
On March 15, 2016, Berkeley Energia Ltd announced that the commencement of development of the Salamanca project is now underway. The company has selected infrastructure contractors to initiate work. Activities on the ground will commence shortly.
The contracts include the re-routing of the existing electrical power line to service the project and a four kilometre realignment of an existing road to allow for the commencement of mining of the Retortillo pit.
On July 27, 2016, Berkeley Energia Ltd announced that work has now commenced on the road realignment and power line upgrade ahead of the main construction.
European Commission reminds Spain to keep an eye on the decommissioning provisions for proposed Salamanca uranium mine, questions project's economic feasibility:
The European Commission, in charge of studying the project of exploitation of the uranium mine in Retoritillo, in its report of May 25, 2015 reminds the Government and the company Berkeley 'look' into the "the need to clearly define the responsibilities for the mine closure, post-closure monitoring and, where appropriate, any necessary rehabilitation measures as well as to ensure adequate and timely availability of funds reserved for such activities.
In the section on project financing, the Commission understands that the investor calculates a operating cost of about $ 28.80 / lb of uranium product, a figure that is below the average cost of producing uranium mines in the world, an aspect which continues to be striking as ENUSA left the project for its expected economic infeasibility.
Moreover, Berkeley anticipated, according to the report of the Commission, that the uranium price that can be obtained on the market is $ 56.40 / lb for this project, with which the company would be viable from a commercial point of view. However, the Commission notes that "if the long-term price of natural uranium approaches the recent spot price, the economic arguments for the operation of the mine would be less convincing." (Las Arribes al día Feb. 25, 2016)
Updated Pre-Feasibility Study claims improved economics for Berkeley's Salamanca uranium mine project: On Nov. 4, 2015, Berkeley Energy announced that inclusion of the Zona 7 deposit into an updated Pre-Feasibility Study "has transformed the economics of the Salamanca project." The study is based on a uranium price of US$ 65 per lb U3O8. Start of construction is expected in mid-2016, with first production in 2017 and a mine life of 17.5 years.
Group complains about poor practice in exploratory drilling at Retortillo uranium deposit:
The platform Stop Uranio denounces Berkeley Spain for "poor practice" in the implemention and restoration of uranium exploration drill holes made on land in the municipality of Villavieja de Yeltes.
As pointed out by this group in a statement, the "poor practice" is based on grounds such as that the company "is making discharges, uncontrolled deposit and abandonment of mining waste [...]"
(Salamanca RTV al día Oct. 13, 2015)
Berkeley strongly rejected the allegations "because they are false, lacking the slightest technical and legal rigor and confuse the research work that Berkeley has performed in the Exploration Permit Alisos with the work that Berkeley is to perform in the Mining Concession Retortillo-Santidad". (Salamanca RTV al día Oct. 14, 2015)
Spanish Cabinet denies municipality the right to hold referendum on proposed Retortillo uranium mine:
The Cabinet today approved an agreement which does not authorize the municipality of Retortillo (Salamanca) to conduct a referendum on the proposed uranium mining in the municipality.
(ABC Oct. 9, 2015)
> Download Cabinet press release Oct. 9, 2015 (58k PDF - in Spanish)
Berkeley trains residents at Retortillo uranium mine project in use of explosives: The Australian company Berkeley, who wants to carry out an ambitious mining project in the western province of Salamanca, has taught in the town of Retortillo - of the hand of the supplier of explosives Maxam - a 'Safety course in handling explosives for obtaining a gunner's certification'. (Salamanca RTV al día Oct. 8, 2015)
Radiological Analytical Study for Retortillo uranium mine project obtains approval: Berkeley reports that the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) approved on September 30 the Radiological Analytical Study of the project. This study allows to theoretically estimate the potential radiological impact on the population and the environment of the project as a whole (including the mining and processing plant). (Salamanca RTV al día Oct. 8, 2015)
Ministry issues authorization for preliminary infrastructure works at Retortillo uranium mine project:
The Ministry of Industry has awarded Berkeley prior authorization for the radioactive facility Retortillo project. This authorization confirms the official recognition of the proposed objective and the "suitability of the site chosen" whose acquisition entitles the holder to apply for the construction permit for the installation and start preliminary works of infrastructure, in line with the permits granted in the previous licensing phase.
(Las Arribes al día Sep. 25, 2015)
> View Authorization in Official Gazette of Sep. 25, 2015 (in Spanish)
Regional parliament commission demands review of EIS for Retortillo uranium mine project:
The Commission of Development and Environment of the regional legislature of Cortes de Castilla y León adopted at its session on Wednesday (Sep. 16) a proposition of law that calls for the Junta de Castilla y Leon to review the environmental impact statement given to the project of open pit uranium mines that the Australian company Berkeley wants to develop in the towns of Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes.
The proposition of law was filed by attorney Joseph Sarrión (IU-Equo), considering that the proposed uranium mine originally submitted did not contain radioactive waste storage or treatment of uranium ore brought from other mines.
This proposition of law must now be submitted to a vote in the House of the Parliament of Cortes de Castilla y León. (Salamanca RTV al día Sep. 17, 2015)
On Oct. 8, 2015, the House of the Parliament of Cortes de Castilla y León voted against the proposition of law. The governing Partido Popular was the only party voting against it, while all opposition parties supported it. (Salamanca RTV al día Oct. 9, 2015)
Name change of Berkeley Resources Ltd: On July 31, 2015, Berkeley Resources Ltd changed its name to Berkeley Energy Ltd.
250 people hold road blockade in protest against Retortillo uranium mine project: The National road 620 remained closed for about an hour on late Saturday (Aug. 22) morning as a result of a demonstration called by the Platform Stop Uranium against the Australian company Berkeley that wants to develop mining projects in the municipalities of Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes. According to the organizers, about 250 people attended the rally. (Ciudad Rodrigo al día Aug. 22, 2015)
200 people gather in opposition to Retortillo uranium mine project: On Aug. 4, 2015, 200 people gathered in the town square of Retortillo to express their opposition to the Retortillo uranium mine project and listen to alternative proposals. (Las Arribes al día Aug. 5, 2015)
Proposed process plant for Salamanca uranium mine project receives favourable CSN report: On July 20, 2015, Berkeley Resources Ltd announced that the Nuclear Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear ) has issued a favourable report for the grant of the Initial Authorisation of the proposed process plant as a radioactive facility. This is the first in a three step process required to authorize the plant for operation.
Waste water discharge permit requested for Retortillo uranium mine project:
The company Berkeley Minera España has requested permission from the Confederación Hidrográfica del Duero to dump wastewater from mining and processing of uranium ore into river Yeltes and stream Caganchas.
Following application by Berkeley, the Confederación Hidrográfica del Duero has opened a period of 30 days for the submission of possible arguments for those who consider themselves affected by the request of Berkeley. (Las Arribes al día June 5, 2015)
Planning Commission rejects Berkeley's application to treat Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes as separate mine projects: The Platform Stop Uranio, a group opposed to uranium mining the company Berkeley intends to launch in the municipalities of Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes, welcomes that the Territorial Planning Commission of Salamanca has rejected the application filed by the company for this project to be treated as two separate files according to their location in each of the municipalities. (Las Arribes al día Feb. 5, 2015)
Berkeley Resources fined 8,000 Euros for drilling in Retortillo without permit: The Platform Stop Uranium reported that the mining company Berkeley has been sanctioned by the City Council Retortillo with a fine of 8,000 euros for drilling in the field without having requested the municipal license and therefore lacking a permit. As a result of allegations that this platform made to the competent institutions in October, accompanied by images, Seprona (a unit of the Civil Guard responsible for nature conservation) urged the City Council of Retortillo to arrange a proceeding against Berkeley and to determine the appropriate sanction. The full City Council Retortillo, at its meeting held on December 18, unanimously agreed to fine Berkeley Minera Spain with 8,000 euros, given that it had committed an urban infraction. (Las Arribes al día Jan. 19, 2015)
Protest march in Retortillo against Berkeley's uranium mine project: Around 150 people participated in a march around Retortillo on Dec. 28, 2014, to protest against the uranium mine project proposed by Berkeley Resources. Participants included representatives of associations and political parties such as EQUO, PSOE, Ecologistas en Acción, Spanish Ornithological Society, Farmers Union of Castilla y León, Greenpeace, Balneario de Retortillo workers, and representatives of the City of Boada. (Las Arribes al día Dec. 28, 2014)
115,000 signatures against uranium mine project in Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes handed over to the Ministry of Industry:
The Platform Stop Uranium and EQUO delivered to the Ministry of Industry in Madrid more than 115,000 signatures against the project to establish uranium mines, a processing plant and tailings dumps in Retortillo and Villavieja Yeltes in the province of Salamanca.
112,000 signatures were obtained via Internet (change.org ) and another 3,000 at information stands.
Currently, this project is pending and awaiting the approval of the Ministry of Industry, following a report from the Nuclear Safety Council. (Tribuna de Salamanca Dec. 5, 2014)
Board rejects Berkeley's request for the use of rural land for its Retortillo-Santidad uranium mine project: The Territorial Committee on Environment and Planning (CTMAU) of the Delegation of the Junta de Castilla y León in Salamanca, at its meeting on Thursday 13 November, has agreed to return to the municipalities of Villavieja de Yeltes and Retortillo the project for which Berkeley requested special authorization for the use of rural land for facilities for open pit uranium mining and, if appropriate, to start the procedure again from the beginning, according to the Platform Stop Uranio. (Salamanca RTV al día, Nov. 13, 2014)
Group files complaint against Berkeley's poor uranium exploration practices at Retortillo-Santidad deposit: The platform Stop Uranium has denounced Berkeley Minera España S.A.U to the Junta de Castilla y León, the Government Office of the Ministry of Industry and the Nuclear Safety Council, for malpractice in the implementation and restoration of uranium exploration and the management of the associated radioactive waste, as performed by the Australian company on land in the municipality of Retortillo, due to impacts on environmental radiology. (La Crónica de Salamanca Nov. 3, 2014)
100,000 signatures collected against Retortillo-Santidad uranium mine project in Salamanca: The platform Stop Uranio this Sunday (Oct. 26) held a rally in the square of Corrillo to collect signatures against the uranium mine that the Australian company Berkeley wants to open in Retortillo-Villavieja. Currently, the platform has already collected 100,000 signatures against the project. (La Crónica de Salamanca Oct. 26, 2014)
City Council of Boada approves motion against Retortillo uranium mill: The full City Council of [neighboring] Boada has approved a motion urging the Nuclear Safety Council not to authorize the operation of the uranium ore processing plant planned in Retortillo and Villavieja de Yeltes. (Salamanca RTV al día, Aug. 9, 2014)
Group launches campaign against licensing of Retortillo-Santidad uranium mine project in Salamanca: Under the slogan 'NO to uranium, YES to life', the group Ecologistas en Acción has launched a campaign 'Berkeley lies' on Tuesday (Aug. 5). Arian García, member of the group explains that in 2012 the Junta de Castilla y León greenlit geographical studies of the site of Retortillo-Holiness for later concession to operate the mine to the Australian company Berkeley. "A few months ago the study concluded. Already in October 2013, in the absence of the environmental impact statement of the mine, the Board decided to give the award to Berkeley without all the complete information." (Salamanca RTV al día, Aug. 5, 2014)
City Council of Villavieja halts approval process of Retortillo uranium mining project: After learning that the wastes produced by the uranium mine are not as inert, sterile, and low-risk, as claimed by Berkeley Resources, the City Council of Villavieja de Yeltes has decided to halt the administrative procedure for the approval of the mine, until the company submits additional documentation. (Ciudad Rodrigo al día, June 24, 2014)
Mining licence granted for Retortillo uranium deposit: On Apr. 24, 2014, Berkeley Resources Ltd announced that the Mining Licence for Retortillo has been granted by the Regional Government of Castilla and León. The Retortillo deposit forms part of the company's Salamanca Project. The Mining Licence is valid for an initial period of 30 years and may be renewed for two additional periods of 30 years.
Spanish and Portuguese Greens demand EU to stop reopening of Retortillo uranium mine:
The environmentalists' formations Equo of Spain and Os Verdes of Portugal file a joint complaint in Brussels to "paralyze" the project to reopen uranium mines in Retortillo-Santidad (Salamanca).
They say the project violates several European norms and hurts the area where the mine is to reopen. (Tribuna de Salamanca Mar. 14, 2014)
Protest in Retortillo against Berkeley's uranium mine project: Over 170 individuals and representatives of various social and political organisations have supported this morning in Retortillo the march organized by Stop Uranium against Berkeley's proposed uranium mine. (Tribuna de Salamanca Dec. 28, 2013)
Ministry of Industry postpones decision on Retortillo uranium mining project, demands assessment of radiological impacts: The political party EQUO unveiled Wednesday afternoon (Dec. 11) a communication received from the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism on the mining project that the Australian company Berkeley wants to develop in the province of Salamanca. In this text, the Ministry informs EQUO that it issued on November 8 a Ministerial Order which temporarily suspends the prior authorization of the Retortillo-Santidad plant that Berkeley wants to build. At least, that permission will not be granted until a year after Berkeley has submitted the information and accreditation the Nuclear Safety Council has demanded. In particular, Berkeley is required to prepare and present technical studies on the radioactive impact of the open pit uranium mines and the generation and storage of radioactive waste on the environment and on people. (Ciudad Rodrigo al Día Dec. 11, 2013)
Environmentalists slam Environmental Impact Assessment for proposed mining of Retortillo deposit for failure to assess radiological impacts:
On Nov. 10, 2013, the NGO Ecologistas en Acción submitted its comments to the Territorial Service of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Salamanca for the public inquiry and consultation on the request for a mining concession for the uranium mining project Retortillo-Santidad. The group criticizes, among others, that the Environmental Impact Assessment submitted by the company does not evaluate the doses received from exposure to radon and its decay products, nor the impacts of the release of radionuclides to rivers and groundwater in the long term.
> View Ecologistas en Acción release Nov. 10, 2013 (in Spanish)
> Download Alegaciones minería uranio Salamanca (722k PDF - in Spanish)
Proposed mining of Retortillo deposit "unsustainable and environmentally unsound":
The Platform Stop Uranium has collected the statements of the president of the Duero River Basin Authority (Confederación Hidrográfica del Duero - CHD), José Valín Alonso, and considers that Berkeley's project in Retortillo is "unsustainable and environmentally unsound".
Valín recalled that the granting of surface water for industrial use requested by the Australian mining company is limited, among other factors, "the inability to abstract water from or dump water into the river Yeltes in summer" and that "environmental flows must be observed in each year period." The CHD President referred to the abstraction volume requested by Berkeley, with an annual maximum of close to 345 million liters of water from the river watercourse.
In addition, Stop Uranium has referred to the report issued by the Nuclear Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear - CSN), which qualifies the waste from the mining operation and the processing plant of the project Retortillo-Santidad as "radioactive", requiring a "joint and inseparable" radiological assessment of both facilities. This would delay the procedure for one year, to carry out a new assessment based on more information hopefully to be obtained from Berkeley. (Tribuna de Salamanca Oct. 21, 2013)
> Download: Propuesta de Dictamen técnico sobre la solicitud de otorgamiento de concesión de explotación de los yacimientos de mineral de uranio de Retortillo-Santidad (Salamanca) , July 30, 2013 (633 kB PDF - CSN, in Spanish)
> Download: Propuesta de Dictamen técnico sobre la solicitud de autorización previa de la planta de concentrado de uranio denominada Planta de tratamiento Retortillo en Salamanca , July 30, 2013 (491 kB PDF - CSN, in Spanish)
Environmental licence granted for mining of Retortillo deposit in Salamanca project:
The Ministry of Environment of the Regional Government of Castilla y León has granted a Favourable Declaration of Environmental Impact ('Environmental Licence') for the mining of the Retortillo deposit, which forms part of Berkeley Resources Ltd's Salamanca project.
(Tribuna de Salamanca Oct. 8, 2013; Berkeley Resources Ltd Oct. 8, 2013)
> Download: Disposición BOCYL-D-08102013-6 , Boletín Oficial de Castilla y León, Núm. 194, Martes, 8 de octubre de 2013, Pág. 66270-66312 (5.8MB PDF - in Spanish)
The public platform against the uranium mine in Salamanca (Plataforma contra la mina de uranio de Salamanca) 'Stop Uranium' described the approval of the Environmental Impact Statement as "environmental nightmare". (Tribuna de Salamanca Oct. 9, 2013)
> View: No a la mina de uranio en Salamanca (in Spanish)
Positive Pre-Feasibility Study announced for Salamanca uranium mine project: On Sep. 26, 2012, Berkeley Resources Ltd announced that a positive Pre-Feasibility Study confirms the "potential" of the Salamanca Project. The study is based on a uranium price of US$ 65 per lb U3O8.
Positive Scoping Study announced for Salamanca 1 uranium mine project: On Nov. 29, 2012, Berkeley Resources Ltd announced that a positive Scoping Study confirms the technical and economic viability of the Salamanca Project.
CSN orders decommissioning of Quercus uranium mill
> View here
Berkeley reaches agreement with ENUSA on uranium exploitation at Salamanca I project:
On July 24, 2012, Berkeley Resources Limited announced that it has reached agreement with Enusa Industrias Avanzadas S.A. ('ENUSA') on terms which provide the company with a 100% interest in select uranium resources within State Reserves held by ENUSA.
Under the agreement, Berkeley holds a 100% interest in, and the exploitation rights to, State Reserves 28 and 29 ('Addendum Reserves') whilst waiving its rights to mine in State Reserves where ENUSA has undertaken rehabilitation. The Addendum Reserves include the substantial unmined Alameda deposit, the Villar deposit and additional prospects. Total resources for the Addendum Reserves are currently estimated at 30.6 million pounds of contained U3O8 [11,769 t U] at an average grade of 465 ppm [0.0394% U] (at a lower cut-off grade of 200 ppm U3O8).
Positive Preliminary Feasibility Study announced for Salamanca 1 uranium mine project: On Jan. 30, 2012, Berkeley Resources Ltd announced a positive Preliminary Feasibility Study for Stage 1 (mining of the Retortillo and Santidad deposits) of its Salamanca 1 uranium project. The ore will be processed by heap leaching, and the ripios (spent ore) will be backfilled into "lined and isolated areas" previously mined within the pit.
Licensing and permitting processes initiated for development of two deposits within the Salamanca 1 uranium project:
On Oct. 13, 2011, Berkeley Resources Ltd announced that on 11th October it initiated the licensing and permitting processes for development of the Retortillo and Santidad deposits within the Salamanca 1 uranium project. These deposits will be the first to be developed in a program focussed on, Berkeley's 100% owned resources.
Salamanca 1 will now be developed as a stand-alone project which will be completely independent of the Company's joint venture with ENUSA, also within the Salamanca Province.
An initial scoping study for the Salamanca 1 uranium project indicates robust economics, at an initial production rate of around 1.5 million pounds of U3O8 [577 t U] per annum. The process will utilise on-off pad, biological heap leaching, which is particularly amenable to the ore type, and to the region and its climate. A preliminary feasibility study is scheduled for completion by year end.
Shares in Berkeley Resources plunged on uncertainty surrounding its proposed joint venture with Enusa for the company's Salamanca uranium project in Spain. Enusa has expressed concerns about the feasibility of the project following Berkeley's submission of a feasibility study. Berkeley maintains the study, prepared by it and its consultants and representing about half of the presently defined mineral resource, confirms the feasibility of the project. (The West Australian May 25, 2011)
The echo of the explosions in the nuclear reactors of Fukushima in Japan has arrived at Salamanca. The plans to restart uranium mining in the zone of Saelices El Chico from 2012 are delayed. This was confirmed by the Australian company Berkeley Resources. (El País May 2, 2011)
On Apr. 29, 2011, Berkeley Resources announced that it is now anticipated that the Feasibility Study for the entire Salamanca Uranium Project will be completed by mid 2012.
On Dec. 14, 2010, Berkeley Resources announced its intention to reopen the uranium operation in Salamanca. The company affirmed in an official notice that it will request the permissions to reopen the mine, for which it must create a company with a 10% interest held by the national uranium company (Enusa) and pay 20 million Euros. According to Berkeley Resources, its plan of operation "guarantees the economic yield of the uranium project in Salamanca". (El País Dec. 15, 2010)
Berkeley Resources Limited is in negotiations with Russian steel maker Severstal over a potential takeover offer by Severstal, Berkeley Resources said on Friday (Oct. 29). (RIA Novosti Oct. 29, 2010)
> see also: Decommissioning of Quercus uranium mill deferred in expectation of restart
On Aug. 10, 2010, Berkeley Resources Limited announced that it has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Korea Electric Power Corporation ('KEPCO'), to finance and develop the Salamanca Uranium Project. KEPCO will invest, at the Project level only, US$ 70 million for a 35% interest in Berkeley's Salamanca Uranium Project, which comprises of Aguila, Alameda, Retortillo and Villar mining areas. KEPCO will also contribute funding of 35% for the development of the Salamanca Uranium Project assets to bring them into production as well as ongoing operating expenditure.
On Dec. 2, 2009, Berkeley Resources Limited announced that the Scoping Study undertaken on its Salamanca Uranium Project has strongly demonstrated the technical and economic viability of the Project. The project would include the re-commissioning of the Quercus uranium mill.
On Feb. 14, 2008, Berkeley Resources Ltd announced a positive Scoping Study for its Salamanca I project.
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