The order signed by the Minister of Energy establishing the implementation of an environmental assessment of the areas, which the government intends to submit to a tender for the allocation of lithium prospecting and research rights, was approved on Monday in Diário da República (DR).
The dispatch took place on November 2, whereby the PUBLIC had already reported, but only reached the DR today and at the urging of the MPs of the Assembly of the Republic, in particular at the initiative of the MP of the Left Bloc, Nélson Peralta.
When asked why the government’s decision had not been made public, Environment Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes recalled that the order had been sent to the assembly and in particular to the unregistered deputy Joacine Qatar Moreira, who approved it in the discussion on the state budget for 2021 this obligation to carry out an environmental assessment for the areas where mining is planned.
Nélson Peralta insisted that public opinion, especially the communities that have committed to monitoring all developments in these areas, have the right to know what is being done. And after Matos Fernandes said that not all orders in Diário da República need to be published, he announced his intention to have them published immediately.
Reading the decision published on Monday shows that the person carrying out this environmental assessment is the Directorate-General for Energy and Geology (DGEG) and that the PUBLIC deadline for its execution of five months has expired. In other words, from the beginning of November, the deadline is the end of March.
The decision states that the National Laboratory for Energy and Geology should provide the DGEG with “the cooperation it has requested for this purpose” and that the necessary studies may be carried out using “third parties”, namely in the university sector. However, the coordination and responsibility of the assessment process rests with the Directorate-General for Energy and Geology and any “reasonable cause preventing its completion within the specified time” must be given to the guardianship in advance.
The assessment will be carried out in the eight areas for which the government intends to launch a tendering process for the allocation of lithium prospecting and research rights – and for which the publication of the Legislative Decree governing Law No. 54/2015 of June 22nd in relation to the development and exploitation of mineral resources.
The diploma was approved by the government in October, but there is still no news that it was promulgated by the President of the Republic. The government decree follows the discussion of the state budget for 2021, in which the Assembly of the Republic approved an article that required an environmental assessment not only for those areas expected to be tendered, but also for those already under concession.
The areas designated for the lithium competition are Serra d’Arga, Barro / Alvão, Seixo / Vieira, Almendra, Barca Dalva / Canhão, Guarda, Segura and Maçoeira. The areas of Boticas, Montalegre and Argemela are not included in this lot because they are already under concession and are undergoing ongoing environmental assessments.