1 August 2018: While the Greens were singing the refrain “We are devouring the Planet”, the government awarded the concession of two new mines to the investor Kovachki and Tilev
A Boyan Rashev’s publication /www.sustainability.bg/ in Facebook raised the hackles and caused a flurry of commentary. Critical to the choice of causes and the initiative of the Green activists, the consultant and a well-known analyst on issues related to the economy and environmental protection brought to the attention a painful matter – while the Greens are dealing with international activities, the Cabinet of Ministers enacts concession agreements for new, big mines, and with an investor whose business in the mining industry is dark to put it mildly. We release here the full and uncensored version of the text, and we are ready to allow different positions and viewpoints to be presented on the topic.
1 August 2018 - must be stamped on gold in the history of the Bulgarian mining industry. On this day, while the Greens were busy with their annual singing of “We are devouring the Planet”, the Bulgarian government signed concession agreements for the construction and operation of two new mines: copper and gold mine near Prohorovo and a lignite coal mine near Slivnitsa. Furthermore, both of these projects are led by a well-known investor in the industry - Kovachki and Tilev, as the media call it.
This is great news for the Bulgarian industry and energy. There is no concession in Bulgaria awarded for such a significant mining as the Prohorovo mine - the project envisages 2 open cast mining with an annual capacity of 4.5 million tons of ore (copper, gold and molybdenum) and a total area of all facilities of 470 ha. This makes it exactly 6 TIMES bigger in terms of mining extraction and from the territory of Ada Tepe of KPM Krumovgrad. And the proven reserves are for 70 years, which means 9 TIMES longer life!
Great - finally a real new mine in Bulgaria, not just a dummy like the one in Krumovgrad. Well, all this happens in the heart of Thrace - between three villages nestled close to each other between Nova Zagora and Yambol. The area represents an interesting combination of first-rate arable land and priority habitats from the network of Natura 2000. But the investors are obviously wizards and have found a way to show that they can build everything without displacing at least one of the villages and destroying those habitats. How else could we explain the positive decision on the Environmental Impact Assessment?
As a matter of fact, I must admit that I am not surprised by the news - the media, including Dnevnik and Capital, has been writing on this project since 2008 (the beginning of surveying).
Then, there is information about the registration of a commercial discovery, and then about the public discussion of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report and now on the concession agreements. It's not like blaring every day, but it’s known. And the environmentalists are watching for similar things in general. Not in the specific case :-)
Of course, if I was a member or supporter of the Greens, I’d have been curious why neither the party nor any non-government organization had not commenting the project in any way? Even Volen Siderov, Evgeniy Daynov and Prof. Gergelchev kept silence during all those years? There were no devastating writings and speeches, initiative committees, court cases, affected local people, crowding journalists, uranium, arsenic, cyanides, two-headed and three-legged children? For other similar projects – with comparatively diminutive potential effects - the protest starts yet with the announcement of a surveying intention, and with Prohorovo – it just happens. Of course, the only logical explanation is that the investors have represented the high-tech project for mining extraction with a zero-ecological footprint, zero risk of anything, ideal and safe employment conditions and many advantages for the local people. And they have convinced everybody that there’s no need of any particular public discussion. I’m sure that’s what happened, isn’t it?
Yet I wonder – it has been 10 years ... How couldn’t an unreasonable green activist come up to ask this question? Because we’ve heard and seen enough irrational words and actions on Krumovgrad, Tran and Velingrad. But the large Prohorovo project is obviously perfect – a mine of such a scale will need an investment amounting to at least BGN 500 MILLION. No doubt, Bulgaria needs investments, so it is normal that nobody objects to it? Or am I wrong?
Whatever I say for the new lignite mine will be insufficient. In front of the agony of the Thermal Power Plant Maritsa Iztok 2 and mines Maritsa-Iztok, the need of a new lignite mining is obvious. It is well-known that the Greens have always supported the new technologies and the investments in a modern and clean energetic so it is normal that they welcomed the opening of a new resource for Republika Thermal Power Plant and Bobovdol Thermal Power Plant. Anyway, these thermal power plants are the only powerful turbines in the Southeastern Bulgaria and they maintain voltage stability in the network. They have their past, why couldn’t they have future?
In a single word: Yesterday, it was a wonderful day for the Bulgarian Democracy! Mr. Kovachki and Mr. Tilev showed everyone how well the business operates in the country, providing a small living to the miners and their parties and by the way, leaving the yellow brick road full of the bodies of political virgins.
For me the following questions remain: Would just one party decay or the whole young democracy? Or the coalition in question will finally get rid of the acute left appendix and the Green idea – although violated, will still survive?