The Ministry of Capital Investments, through the superficial processes of public hearings, violates the basic principles of public participation in the process of adopting this year’s Plan for granting concessions for the exploitation of mineral resources, claim representatives of non-governmental organizations Eko-team, Legalis, Da zaživí selo and CEE Bankwatch Network.
Those NGOs, as explained in the joint statement, are dissatisfied with the insufficiently transparent attitude of the relevant Ministry. The comments and suggestions that we submitted to the Ministry on the disputed Draft Plan, focusing on the issue of the planned opening of the new Mataruga mine, were completely omitted from the final report from the public hearing. Ten days after the disputed plan was adopted at the 43rd session of the Government, with our additional intervention, the Ministry subsequently submitted to us prepared responses to the comments, the content of which is not grounded in real facts and does not justify the opening of new mines – claim the representatives of those NGOs.
In the already adopted Plan, the new lignite deposit at the Mataruga location implies the exploitation in the zone of sanitary protection of the water intake from the Otilović lake, which is used for the water supply needs of the citizens of Pljevlja, which, as they say, directly destroys the only and main functional source of drinking water for the population.
To such an important factual statement, we received a response from the Ministry that Pljevlja should investigate and provide an alternative solution for water supply, and priority should be given to the new mine. An alternative solution not only does not exist, but is not even possible, and according to the findings of an expert study on the possibilities of water supply in Pljevlja from 2002 – it was added.
Also, as explained by those NGOs, the planned Mataruga mine is in direct collision with the goal of declaring the Nature Park of the Upper Course of the Ćehotina River, for which a protection study has been completed, and which will be followed by a decision on the declaration.
The representatives of those NGOs reminded that last year they sent comments and objections to the Ministry on the Draft Concession Act for Exploitation for the Mataruga locality, demanding an analysis of the justification of public interest for such an operation.
Unfortunately, these objections were not published, nor were we informed whether the objections were considered, and from the attached draft plan for the granting of concessions for this year, it can be seen factually that the objections were not even taken into account – it is stated in the announcement.
Those NGOs said that the trend of planning and opening new coal mines in the municipality of Pljevlja is worrying. Montenegro joined the PPCA alliance and announced its exit from coal by 2035. Instead of gradually reducing the use of coal, the Ministry proposes opening new mines, in localities such as Mataruga, the village of Glisnica near Lake Borovick, and the like, implementing non-transparent and superficial processes of public participation and assessment of negative environmental impacts – it was added.
NGOs demand that the Ministry include their remarks and answers in the final document and send it back to the Government for a vote. The opening and expansion of coal exploitation is contrary to the strategic goals of Montenegro in the context of European integration, and if the state does not abandon the planned new mines, we are ready to file a complaint with international bodies for the protection of basic human rights and non-compliance with climate and energy obligations – it is concluded in the statement.