Tres cuestionables proyectos mineros en España

Three Questionable Spanish Mining Projects

Durante las dos últimas semanas de junio de 2019, tuve la oportunidad de evaluar tres proyectos mineros españoles, en colaboración con Ecologistas en Acción, la Plataforma Touro-O Pino Mina Non, y ContraMINAcción. Los tres proyectos fueron la Mina Riotinto en Andalucía (sur de España), la propuesta Mina Touro en Galicia (norte de España), y la abandonada Mina San Finx en Galicia cuya reapertura ha sido propuesta.

El Prof. Steven Emerman presentó sus conclusiones en Galicia ante miembros de ContraMINAcción y de la Plataforma Mina Touro-O Pino NON, 29 de junio 2019

La probabilidad de falla por licuefacción estática de las represas de relaves en la mina Riotinto es muy alta. La secuencia de eventos hasta ahora es muy similar a la secuencia de eventos que llevaron a la falla de la represa de relaves en la Mina Samarco en Brasil, incluyendo el tipo de construcción aguas arriba. Las excavaciones en el borde de la presa muestran que el nivel freático dentro de los relaves está a sólo 1-2 metros por debajo de la superficie. Además, la filtración incontrolada cerca de la parte superior de la presa indica que casi toda la presa y los relaves están saturados de agua. Mis recomendaciones fueron que debe cesar la adición de agua y relaves a la represa y que se deben desarrollar planes para drenar los relaves inmediatamente. De hecho, el Tribunal Supremo de Andalucía anuló la licencia ambiental de la mina el 27 de junio. Estoy escribiendo un informe completo sobre estas represas de relaves, que será publicado por London Mining Network.

La propuesta de las represas de relaves en la Mina Touro hace caso omiso de los conceptos más básicos de seguridad para represas. La presa propuesta, de 81 metros de altura, se ubicaría en una pendiente de 200 metros sobre el pueblo de Arinteiro y de 1000 metros sobre el pueblo de Loxo. En comparación, según la nueva legislación brasileña, es ilegal construir o aumentar la altura de una presa de relaves cuando existe una población a menos de 10 kilómetros de la presa (en la denominada “zona de auto-rescate”). Aún así, cualquier presa cuya falla pueda causar la pérdida de vidas humanas debe ser diseñada para resistir la Inundación Máxima Probable y el Terremoto Máximo Creíble. Estos conceptos no han sido considerados en ninguno de los planes de las presas de relaves. Mi informe sobre la propuesta de la Mina Touro fue publicado por la Plataforma Touro-O Pino Mina Non en marzo.

Las represas de relaves para la Mina San Finx abandonada fueron construidas en las décadas de 1920 y 1930 y necesitan reparación. Los planes para la reapertura de la mina niegan que se trate de presas de relaves e incluso niegan la necesidad de presas de relaves, basándose en la afirmación de que los niveles naturales de contaminación de fondo son muy superiores a los límites de contaminación establecidos por la ley española. Esta afirmación se basa en procedimientos incorrectos y cálculos erróneos. Mi informe sobre la existencia de contaminación de fondo natural será publicado en breve por ContraMINAcción.

Con mucho gusto ayudaré a otras organizaciones con inquietudes sobre proyectos mineros existentes o propuestos. Me pueden contactar en SHEmerman@gmail.com

Aquí puedes ver una entrevista con el Prof. Steven Emerman, por la periodista Pilar Aymara

 

By Steven H. Emerman, Ph.D.

During the last two weeks of June 2019, I had the opportunity to evaluate three Spanish mining projects, in collaboration with Ecologistas en Acción, Plataforma Touro-O Pino Mina Non, and ContraMINAcción. The three projects were the active Riotinto Mine in Andalucía (southern Spain), the proposed Touro Mine in Galicia (northern Spain), and the abandoned San Finx Mine in Galicia that has been proposed for re-opening.

Prof. Steven Emerman presented his conclusions to members of Mina Touro O Pino NON and ContraMINAcción, June 29th 2019

The probability of failure by static liquefaction of the tailings dams at the Riotinto Mine is very high. The sequence of events thus far is very similar to the sequence of events that led to the failure of the tailings dam at the Samarco Mine in Brazil, including the use of upstream construction. Excavations at the edge of the dam show that the water table within the tailings is only 1-2 meters below the surface. Furthermore, uncontrolled seepage near the top of the dam indicates that nearly the entire dam and tailings are saturated with water. My recommendations were that addition of water and tailings to the dam must cease and that plans for draining the tailings must be developed immediately. In fact, the Supreme Court of Andalucía annulled the environmental license for the mine on June 27. I am writing a full report on these tailings dams, which will be released by London Mining Network.

The proposal for the tailings dams at the Touro Mine disregards the most basic concepts of dam safety. The proposed 81-meter-high dam would be placed on a steep slope 200 meters above the village of Arinteiro and 1000 meters above the village of Loxo. By contrast, according to the new Brazilian legislation, it is illegal to build or increase the height of a tailings dam when there is a population residing within 10 kilometers downslope of the dam (referred to as the “self-rescue zone”). Even so, any dam for which the failure would result in the loss of human life should be designed to resist the Probable Maximum Flood and the Maximum Credible Earthquake. These concepts have not been considered anywhere in any of the plans for the tailings dams. My report on the proposed Touro Mine was released by Plataforma Touro-O Pino Mina Non in March.

The tailings dams for the abandoned San Finx Mine were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s and are in serious need of repair. The plans for re-opening the mine deny that these are tailings dams and even deny the need for tailings dams, based upon a claim that the natural background levels of contamination are far higher than the contamination limits set by Spanish law. This claim is based upon incorrect procedures and miscalculations. My report on the existence of natural background contamination will be released shortly by ContraMINAcción.

I would be very happy to assist other organizations with concerns about existing or proposed mining projects. I can be contacted at SHEmerman@gmail.com

Watch an interview with Prof. Steven Emerman during his stay at Santiago de Compostela by journalist Pilar Aymara

 

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