Press release from Ecologistas en Acción

One of the main environmental Spanish NGOs, Ecologistas en Acción, has warned that Atalaya Mining, the company operating Riotinto copper mine in Spain, has mislead its shareholders by announcing that a long-standing legal suit challenging the legality of mine is successfully over because the Spanish authorities have issued a final resolution validating the mine operations.

11th May 2020

On the 7th of May, Atalaya Mining stated to its shareholders (1), the Spanish media (2) and in its website (3) that the legal process issued by the Spanish environmentalist NGO Ecologistas en Acción, questioning the legality of the original environmental authorization, granted to Riotinto and subsequently annulled by the Regional Court in 2018, has come to an end due to the fact that a “favourable resolution” was granted by the Andalusian government validating the original authorisation.

The Spanish NGO is denouncing the inaccuracy of both statements by the company. Firstly, there are two outstanding connected legal suits launched by the NGO on July and October 2019 before the Andalusian Regional Court which have yet been conclude. The NGO in such proceedings argues that all along the long proceedings the Andalusian Government had not information on the potential risks of the mining operations, in particular a report by Dr. Steven Emerman (4) that concludes that there is a high risk of collapse of the tailing dams of Riotinto mine in the next 5 years.

Ecologistas en Acción emphasises that not to disclosure such key information is not a “formal defect” – as Atalaya and the Andalusian Regional Government claim – but, rather, direct violations of the rights to public participation and information.

In addition, Ecologistas en Acción warns that new the resolution which supposedly gives green light to Riotinto operations, is not final and indeed this was stated to the press by Spanish mining authorities (5). The NGO has explained that the given resolution only becomes final once it has been sanctioned by the Andalusian Government and also formally notified to the NGO, which, as interested party in the on-going proceedings, can object to its release on the basis that there is a serious potential risks of collapse of Riotinto dams, as the expert report has shown.

Consequently, as soon as Ecologistas en Acción is notified of the environmental authorisation, it will launch an appeal.
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