February 23, 2020 English news blog from the Algarve

NGO urges Portuguese Government to avoid “environmental disaster” with lithium

Environmental NGO Quercus asks the recent Portuguese Government to rethink lithium exploration in the country, in order to avoid an environmental disaster.

The lithium exploration debate in Portugal caught the public attention with the corruption allegations surrounding it. A licence for exploration in Montalegre was awarded to a company created three days before signing the contract. Quercus has emphasised about the importance of listening to the population in the region where the exploration will take place.

“If NGOs, politicians, councillors and people are against, I believe the government has to reconsider”, a Quercus representative said. “We’re hoping the decision of the Secretary of State regarding around 10 new zones of lithium exploration will rather defend the lives of Portuguese people, nature conservation and the value and biodiversity of the interior” said the NGO to the news agency Lusa.

Government decision could avoid an environmental disaster. But Quercus admits being concerned, mainly because the responsible secretary of state for this case has recently been linked to corruption allegations with lithium exploration licenses. His decision will affect thousands of hectares and several towns and villages.

According to Quercus, lithium exploration planned for natural parks and protected areas will have a violent impact on underground water sources, thus affecting homes, businesses and habits. This initiative is the exact opposite of the government’s promised transition to clean and renewable energies.

Economy minister Pedro Siza Vieira has emphasised that the government will protect and respect the environment, but that it must also consume national mineral resources. Siza Vieira is looking to promote a refinery on national soil, ensuring increased profits for all involved.

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