In 2011, the Canadian company Edgewater asked for permission to develop a 700 ha gold mine in Galicia. This open-pit project was to operate over 13 years (including 3 years for infrastructure construction and 2 years for restoration activities), with plans to extract a total amount of 1,095,000 ounces of gold. Total investment would have been 651,824,167 € and of the project would have created 271 direct jobs during the 8 years of non-stop extractive operations.See more...
In May 2012, The regional governemnt of Galicia considered the mining project as a strategic industrial project, accelerating the speed of the permits. Since then, opposition to the project has emerged from different parts of society (from some of the Galician parlamentarian groups, to civic and environmental groups). They claim the consequences for the area will be environmentally and socially devastating, especially due to the use of cyanide in gold mining. Further, the open-pit would have been located 140m from the Allóns River, a Place of Community Importance under European environmental legislation. In fact, a mining accident such as a tailings spill in the area, would have seriously affected Costa da Morte, an iconic environmentally protected area, recognized as a Special area for Birds. Obviously, the mining project would also have radically affected the people living in the area (in towns such as Cabana de Bergaintiños, Coristanco, Carballo, Concejo de Poristanco and Concejo de Ponteceso) in which small economies linked to cattle farming are still widespread (indeed 1000 small cattle farming businesses are located in the area of influence of the mining project).
Opposition to the open-pit gold mine started in 2012. Since then, a lively anti-mining movement has been growing in Galicia. Several engaged individuals and different groups such as Salvemos Cabana, Adega, Verdegaia, Contraminate and Sociedade Galega de Historia Natural, among others, started mobilising against the project. The groups organised themselves in two Platforms (Plataforma Cidadá Salvemos Cabana and Plataforma pola Defensa de Corcoesto e Bergantiños, the latest composed by 23 groups). During 2013, these two platforms have had a strong impact on the regional and national media. They have developed a complementary wide range of protest tactics; from writing official complaint letters; bringing the case before the Ombudsman and before the European Parliament (European laws encourage Member States to ban the use of cyanide for mining extraction); gathering 230,000 signatures against the gold mine; organising massive demonstrations in the main cities of Galicia; using international campaign tools such as change.org to make a viral youtube clip against open-pit mining in Galicia; they also explored the world of art-protest tactics by publishing a gold-mining protest poetry book and organizing a street art competition, theatre plays and a music festival. Additionally, more than 200 experts and other members of the regional government have taken a critical position against the gold mine, signing petitions and protesting against the project.
In July 2013, the regional government of Galicia decided that the project does not have either the technical nor the economical requirements to be approved for the moment. On the 15th of October 2013, the license for the gold mining project in Corcoesto was cancelled. However, the company is planning to appeal the decision and some activists believe that the project was cancelled partly for economic reasons, due to the dropping value of gold, and that it could be restarted should the price recover in the future.