A project to open a plaster mine which would decimate 1,450 hectares or 14.5 million square metres of land in San Miguel de Salinas has received a huge outcry from residents across the area. The mine would sit on the north-west-south facade of the municipality affecting most of the residential urban areas of the municipality and its economy.
San Miguel thrives on tourism and real estate but the mine would see these plummet along with related sectors such as retail, hospitality and construction. Agriculture would also suffer and all aspects of urban and rural life and livelihood would see adverse affects. In short the open cast mine would see house prices drop dramatically and the town would become a shadow of its former self as tourists dwindle and people move away. In particular the mine would border Torre Estrella and Ciudad de las Comunicaciones.
Manolo Gomez, President of the residents association San Miguel Arcangel, said: The town is now facing a a waste treatment plant on its eastern side and the open cast mine on its west and northern sides.”
The mining company, which is part of the Torralba Group, has sought permission from the authorities in Alicante to investigate and test the land for a proposed gypsum mine. Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate. It is widely mined and is used as a fertilizer, and as the main constituent in many forms of plaster, blackboard chalk and plasterboard. The mine would spread from the Camino de la Balsa road up to Torre Estrella and Ciudad de las Comunicaciones, over to La Pedrera reservoir and down to the CV-95.
If the mine goes ahead it would also be a serious blow to the future Sierra de Escalona and Dehesa de Campoamor natural parks. Some 1,065 hectares of the proposed site overlap with the ZEPA area of the Escalona, a special protection area for birds. The Sierra de Escalona and Dehesa de Campoamor have been declared protection areas for the Imperial Eagle and Bonelli’s Eagle, in addition to having one of the most densely populated European Eagle Owl populations.
Despite the fact that the project was submitted in May 2016, the is still in its preliminary stage and only came to light recently – on 31st August – when the company’s proposal had to be released into the public domain along with the request for the Investigation Permit. The second stage would be the application for an Exploitation Permit.
Manolo Gomez said: “It is very important to carry out actions now so that the authorisation of the Research Permit is not granted and the project is cancelled because otherwise, once the Research Permit is granted, the company acquires exploitation rights over the deposit and it could require the government to compensate it for loss of profits.”
According to a 1973 Spanish mining law, mining is classed as an ‘industry of general interest’ and this allows farmers and landowners to have their land expropriated under a compulsory order. Other local areas and their residents would also be affected by the number of large lorries needed to service the mine.
Manolo Gomez added: “As citizens we cannot consent in the 21st century that private busineeses and interests shape our territory and decide our future and affect our lives. Faced with this serious situation we have promoted the creation of a neighbourhood coordinator to bring together the widest possible social spectrum to address this problem and we have also proposed to the City Council that we join forces in the face of such a challenge.”