Environmental organisations in Galicia have joined forces to demand the preservation of Pico Vello, where mining company Picobello Andalucita S.L. plans to build a mine of andalusite (aluminium nesosilicate), a mineral used in the construction of industrial ovens for the chemical and other industries.
The project was rejected in September 2006 due to the fact that the mine would have invaded the Fragas do Eume National Park . Months later, the company submitted a new proposal, reducing the size of the project and moving the site a mere 50 metres away from the National Park. This distance is not enough to prevent pollution from dust, noise and air emissions, but the project was approved in February 2010.
Mining would destroy the source of the River Belelle. This does not comply with the legislation on mining, which forbids such activities within a 100 metre distance from fresh water springs. Nor does it observe the principle of prioritising water supplies to local people.
Moreover, the suggested site for dumping waste is located on the abundant River Eume, which is the main source of freshwater and thus life in the Natural Park. Air emissions, dust and noise would further jeopardise the life of this river.
Picobello Andalucita plans now to receive 6.3 million Euros for the government of Galicia.
The Pico Vello site boasts 25 hectares of native unique forest, "Fraga" and it represents a small sanctuary for biodiversity in Galicia. The number and extent of such forests are greatly threatened by the spread of foreign species such as the eucalyptus and by large infrastructure projects. For this reason, the surronding areas has been included in the proposed extension of the Natura 2000 network, though surprisingly not Pico Vello itself.
The environmental organisations have already submitted a formal complaint against irregularities in the concession of mining projects to the Environmental Judicial Body.