The dolomite quarry is located on publicly owned land. :: R. L.
Councillors in Coín recently voted to allow a dolomite quarry on publicly owned land to be extended by a further 70 hectares following an improvement in the financial deal offered by the agreement. The new offer could see the Coín-based mining company Productos Dolomíticos de Málaga S.A. (PRODOMASA) pay 500,000 euros a year into the town hall’s coffers.
The new agreement replaces a similar plan from 2011 which was eventually dropped due to legal complications and because the project did not satisfy the environmental conditions set out by the Junta de Andalucía.
Under the latest proposals, Coín will receive a minimum of 1.20 euros per cubic metre of material removed from the quarry by the mining company, six cents higher than had previously been agreed. The payment to the council rises to a maximum of 2.50 euros depending on the volume of material mined, with a topological survey assessing the quantity annually. According to the mayor of Coín, an average year could bring in half a million euros to the council.
Other conditions of the new agreement see a minimum of 15 per cent of income to the council being committed to improving the Sierra Blanca mountains and an additional annual sum of 20,000 euros to be paid by PRODOMASA for social and cultural events in Coín.
The extension to the mining of the Sierra Blanca mountainside was not unanimously agreed on by the council as councillors from the Izquierda Unida party voted against the proposals, having already launched a legal challenge to the council’s right to allow the mining activity on land that belongs to the whole community.
Also fighting the plans for the extension of the quarry is the environmental group ‘SierraViva’ which was formed by Coín residents to protest at the destruction of the wooded area that is earmarked for the open-cast mining.
“We tried to intervene in the council meeting to highlight that the information being presented was not complete, but we were not allowed to speak,” one of the SierraViva protesters told SUR in English. Jesús García Moyano from SierraViva added: “The information on dust from the quarry workings was not presented properly. They produced a map but it is incomplete. It is a con because the dust from the existing quarry already affects the whole of the Guadalhorce Valley”.
The new extension to the mining licence will give PRODOMASA rights to extract dolomite and other minerals from an area roughly equivalent to the size of 100 football pitches. Currently, the land is forested and SierraViva members say that despite promises to reforest the quarry once extraction has finished, the flora and fauna of the mountain may never recover if disturbed.
“There are orchids and other plants that rely on special conditions to flourish. You have to have a certain fungus in the ground for the orchids to grow and that is not something you can recreate in a reforestation programme,” said Jesús. He added that SierraViva is receiving support from other political and environmental groups against the proposed extension to the quarry. Jesús said that the Partido Popular councillors now leading the council were originally against the proposed increase in mining but for some reason they are now determined to see the licences approved.
Members of SierraViva have vowed to continue their protests and say that there is strong support for their cause among residents in Coín, especially over fears about the effects that quarry blasting will have on local water courses, which Jesús said has not been fully proven to be safe. He concluded: “This agreement leaves the control of blasting in the hands of PRODOMASA. That’s like leaving a child with a petrol-can and lighter and hoping nothing will go wrong.”