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San Finx

Question écrite de M. Nicolás GONZÁLEZ CASARES - Commission européenne

Question de M. Nicolás GONZÁLEZ CASARES,

Diffusée le 3 septembre 2023

Subject: San Finx

The Government of Galicia has just launched an infringement case against the company that operates the San Finx mine for failing to comply with the discharge parameters: the levels of cadmium, copper and zinc detected were above the maximum permissible values. This infringement of the authorised limits occurred shortly after the Galician Government authorised the company to dispose of the almost 900 000 cubic metres of accumulated waste water that it needed to get rid of before reopening the site. This has given rise to serious concerns among the population because of the threat it poses to the Ría de Muros e Noia estuary, including the sites protected by the Natura network.

In reply to my question E-000386/20231, the Commission rejected the suggestion that any water had been illegally pumped between levels and stated that it did not intend to investigate possible infringements by the mine. In view of the above:

1. Is the Commission aware of this new infringement case?

2. If so, has it contacted the Government of Galicia or will it do so in order to obtain information on these discharges, given that the mine has received funding from the NEXT project?

3. Will the Commission reconsider its refusal to investigate the mine’s failure to comply with environmental legislation in view of the new discharges referred to above?

Submitted: 4.9.2023


Réponse - Commission européenne

Diffusée le 14 novembre 2023

Answer given by Mr Sinkevičius on behalf of the European Commission (15 November 2023)

Without prejudice to the Commission’s role as guardian of the Treaties, Member States are primarily responsible to ensure compliance with EU law.

Moreover, in line with the Commission’s strategic approach to its enforcement action (2), focused on systemic non-compliance, Member States are better placed to assess individual cases of possible wrongful application of EU law.

In this vein, the Commission takes note of the legal action taken by the Government of Galicia and trusts that this case will be satisfactorily dealt with by appropriate mechanisms at national level.

The project mentioned by the Honourable Member, New Exploration Technologies (NEXT, GA number 776804) (3) ran from 1 May 2018 to 30 September 2021. It received funding from Horizon 2020 (4) — Research and Innovation Framework Programme (5).

This was a research project in the field of mineral exploration that aimed to develop new geomodels, novel sensitive exploration technologies and data analysis methods that together are fast, cost-effective, environmentally safe, and socially acceptable.

In the available project documentation, there is no reference to any of the participating beneficiaries or project activities associated with pumping of ground water and/or water discharge in any of the NEXT project related locations.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) (6) requires water bodies not to deteriorate status and achieve good status at the latest by end of 2027. Discharge permits are subject to prior assessment of impacts and, if deterioration might occur, to compliance with strict criteria, as set out in Article 4(7) WFD.

1 ∙ ⸱

2 ∙ ⸱ As set out in the communication of 19 January 2017 (EU law: Better results through better application — C/2016/8600, OJ C 18, 19.1.2017, p. 10-20) and in

the communication of 13 October 2022 (COM(2022) 518 final — Enforcing EU law for a Europe that delivers). 3 ∙ ⸱ 4 ∙ ⸱

Regulation (EU) 2021/695 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 April 2021 establishing Horizon Europe — the framework Programme for Research and Innovation, laying down its rules for participation and dissemination, and repealing Regulations (EU) No 1290/2013 and (EU) No 1291/2013 (Text with EEA relevance), OJ L 170, 12.5.2021, p. 1; 5 ∙ ⸱ The Call identifier is H2020-SC5-13-2016-2017: New solutions for sustainable production of raw materials under the (sub) topic ‘New sensitive exploration technologies (2017)’, 6 ∙ ⸱ Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1-73, as amended by Commission Directive 2014/101/EU of 30 October 2014, OJ L 311, 31.10.2014, p. 32-35.

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