The citizens of Gevgelia will soon vote in the referendum for or against granting concession for the exploitation of mineral resources, gold and copper, on the part of the mountain Kozuf. The unanimous decision on organizing the referendum was reached during the Council held on March 16. This is perhaps the only case where representatives of VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM were on the same side were.
The initiative to hold a referendum was submitted by the Association “Spas za nas (Save Gevgelia)”.
So far, Gevgelia Municipality has granted two mineral explorations concessions. Explorations are already at the end and the Canadian company, owner of the concession, has already applied for the exploitation concession.
Gevgelia municipality Council considers that the mountain Kozuf has no conditions for the exploitation of gold, regardless of the exploration results, because the area is known to be the eco-region that produces healthy food, and the major project “Konjska brana (Horse dam)” should be built in this area soon.
Previous experience of this kind of exploitation by leaching method, showed catastrophic consequences for the environment.
According to the projection of the Canadian company Nevsun, it is planned to extract 300 tons of gold from the Konjsko mine for a period of 20 years. Open mining involves opening a hole with a three kilometers diameter and a depth of 700 meters. 15 million cubic meters of ore would be dug annually.
The Association “Spas za nas (Save Gevgelia) claims that the worst thing is that cyanide is used for the extraction of gold from ore. Overburden and liquid have a high concentration of cyanide, sulfuric acid, arsenic, thallium, antimony, with a half-life of 2000 years.
Consequences for the environment would be a total devastation of the mountain Kozuf, cutting 3,000 hectares of beech forests, air pollution by 3,000 tons of highly carcinogenic dust per year, pollution of groundwater and surface water by cyanide, sulfuric acid, arsenic, thallium, manganese, soil contamination throughout Gevgelia Valley and afterwards resettlement of people within 50 kilometers.
Nevsun Company, through its branch Reservoir Minerals has two exploration concessions – Konjsko and Dvoriste. Concessions are valid until July 4, 2017.