Spain sticks with decision to block Berkeley uranium mine

Spain sticks with decision to block Berkeley uranium mine
By Reuters
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MADRID -Spain’s Energy Ministry has upheld its refusal to authorise a uranium mine near the western city of Salamanca, Berkeley Energia said on Tuesday, sending its shares down 16%.

Berkeley said it was prepared to work with the Spanish authorities and remained hopeful the row could be resolved through negotiation, rather than international arbitration.

The Retortillo uranium project in the Salamanca region, Berkeley’s main asset, received a preliminary approval in 2013 but has since run into hurdles, including opposition from nearby communities and safety concerns from regulatory authorities.

Berkeley had appealed against an initial rejection and alleged the Spanish government had not followed “legally established procedure”, but the appeal was rejected, it said.

Spain’s Energy Ministry declined to comment, referring to a 2021 statement on the original rejection, where it cited a negative opinion issued by the Nuclear Safety Council highlighting “poor reliability and high uncertainty of the safety analyses of the radioactive site”.

Berkeley said it believes the rejection is not legal as it infringed on the London-listed company’s rights under an international agreement known as the Energy Charter Treaty.

This is designed to promote energy security through the operation of more open and competitive energy markets.

Berkeley had said the Salamanca mine would run for 14 years, generating investment in excess of 250 million euros ($297 million) and more than 2,500 jobs in the region.

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