Recently, London Mining Network was contacted by the Collectif Douar Didoull in Brittany (France). The Collectif reported on the efforts of Australian mining company Variscan to begin mining in their area, and informed us that Variscan had suggested that it may seek a listing on the London Stock Exchange.
The Collectif Douar Didoull has written an open letter to Variscan and its shareholders in the hope that the company will not go ahead with its proposals in Brittany.
Open letter to Variscan Mines Ltd and its shareholders
To : Variscan Mines Limited.
80 Chandos street, St-Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia.
Over the last three years, a branch of Variscan Mines Ltd, based in Australia and listed on the Australia Stock Exchange, has obtained from the French government several Exclusive Mining Prospection Permits for locating seams sufficiently promising to justify mining.
Rapidly, in all the targeted districts and downstream of them, groups of citizens have organised to denounce and resist these projects. Such as in this part of Brittany where our Collective named « Douar Didoull » (=Land without Holes, in Breton) focuses on resisting the « Lok-Envel » permit.
Variscan Ltd regularly publishes bulletins for its shareholders and the stock market, about the progress of its activities. We, the inhabitants of the territory concerned, read them attentively and they do seem rather reticent about the strong opposition arising in the terrain.
Thus, in the Lok-Envel Permit (336 km2, 25 boroughs) , the last three years have seen a succession of demonstrations, information meetings, petitions, legal procedings, publications, concerts & festivals. Each of these actions manifest the mounting refusal of the inhabitants to have any mining imposed on this predominantly farming district, where the already fragile water quality is a crucial problem.
It might interest you to know that a large number of landowners (75%) have sent to the Préfecture an official refusal of access for the extraction of geological samples from their land, among them most of the farmers from whom the state has been demanding great efforts to reduce their environmental impact.
It is also significant that in the three weeks of public enquiry preceding the granting of the permit, nearly 5000 letters or signatures were officially registered as opposing the project.
Incidentally a year ago, five borough councils voted to prohibit overflights by helicopters with geological sounding equipement. The fact that they were subsequently sued by Variscan did nothing to improve its image.
Finally, more recently, even if they previously tended to favour the project, the elected members of both the County Council and the Regional Council voted unanimously to demand cancellation of the permits, notwithstanding that any such decision falls only within the competence of the French government.
Seen from down-under, these facts might seem rather anecdotal. But, they do illustrate by their number and diversity the fact that the population does not consent to mining operations for which any prospecting would be the advance guard.
This open letter outlines some of the opposition to our very own Lok Envel mining project. However, in each of the other districts where Variscan wants to explore, comparable events are happening and will happen, as other citizens collectives take the initiative. Needless to say, all these groups are in contact and in mutual solidarity. Our opposition to the Lok-Envel project extends naturally to all the others, in particular the nearby project around Merléac (411km2, 32 boroughs) which seems today to be Variscan’s favourite target.
Last summer the local authorities placed restrictions on the use of water. The quality of surface water and of underground reserves was already degraded, despite all the efforts made by farmers to reduce their environmental impact. The protection of this endangered resource is therefore a vital priority, and the local population is perfectly aware of that.
Finally, this opposition is’nt just a « not in my backyard «  type of protest, it comes from a strong comitment of our collective against the waste of water, minerals, natural spaces all around the world where the increasing exploitation of these so-called ressources has so often tragical consequences on the lives of the inhabitants.
Here in Brittany, the resistance against these mining projects, is already firmly rooted and will not cease to make itself heard.
Le Collectif Douar Didoull
For the Preservation of our Land and Water and against the Mining Projects.
February 2018 . Plougonver. Brittany. France.