Bulgaria mining: Euromax Asarel Medet mine openings and its environment impact to Serbia

22. December 2016. / Mining

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Experts warn that with the operation of open pit mines in the Bulgarian village Erul, near the Serbian border, waste will contaminate and destroy all wildlife in the river Jerma, which rises on the Vlasina Plateau, not far from Vlasina Lake, runs partly through the territory of Bulgaria, but then again, flows in Serbia and discharges into the river Nisava.

Vlasina Lake and its surroundings could become the subject of environmental disaster caused by pollution of the Jerma watercourse, from nearby Bulgaria as it is opening 8 mines, three of which will be open pit mines.

While competent authorities in Serbia perceive things conciliatory, the expert public from both countries is concerned about the plan for opening gold and silver mines only twenty kilometers away from the border crossing Strezimirovci.

According to plan 8 mines will be opened, three of which will be open pit mines, and remaining five will imply underground exploitation. The construction of two tailing ponds and ore processing plant are also foreseen.

Experts warn that with the operation of open pit mines in the Bulgarian village Erul, which is located near the Serbian border in Pernik district, waste will contaminate the river Jerma and destroy all wildlife.

Borislav Sandov from the Balkan network, European Greens, says that gold and silver mines contaminate water, both surface and ground water flows.

“The greatest danger comes from the use of large amounts of cyanide in the process of extracting precious metals from the ore in tailings, which is considered to be extremely controversial process in many countries. As far as I know the plan, it is envisaged to use mine blasting for the rocks, which is extremely dangerous because the presence of uranium has been found in the mountains. With the explosion there will be the radioactive dust that will be spread all around by the wind, and wildlife has no adequate protection from it”, he explains

The river Jerma rises on the Vlasina Plateau in the vicinity of Vlasina Lake in the municipality of Surdulica, and then at the border crossing in the village of Strezimirovci it flows in Bulgaria where it runs partly, and then re-enters Serbia and empties in the river Nisava.

Water pollution would not only affect the plants and organisms in the water system, but it would be harmful to the entire biological community, which in this case implies potential environmental disaster for Vlasina, which represents natural asset of great importance for Serbia.

In addition, the area around the river Jerma is protected as a special nature reserve inhabited by the protected species such as stone crab, brown trout, wild gudgeon, European chub and barb fish.

The plan for mine opening is currently in the phase of complying environmental impact assessment as required by the Bulgarian law before that state acquires the approval for exploitation. According to the obligations arising from the Espoo Convention, Bulgaria is obliged to inform the other country about the plan for opening of mines on its territory because of the possibility that the implementation of the project may have a negative impact on the environment of the neighboring country, in this case Serbia, which Bulgaria did. However, according to available documentation from July 6, 2015 the former Minister Snezana Bogosavljevic Boskovic informed her Bulgarian colleague Ivelin Vasilev that Serbia will not participate in the assessment but that it expects a final decision about the project with special emphasis on the adopted monitoring model of the river Jerma in its watercourse towards Serbia.

The project applicant is a company “Euromax Exploration Services Ltd ‘(EES), former Canadian company that was purchased by the Bulgarian “Assar Medet” registered in Malta.

Elitsa Georgieva, PR of the company, mentions plans according to which in the next 26 years 750,000 tons of ore would be mined for the excavation of gold and silver. She considers the fear from uranium contamination as unfounded and claims that 320 hectares of tailings bottom will be coated with synthetic material in order to prevent chemical contamination of water, noting that the chemicals to be used are not dangerous.

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