On 12 September 2014 Slovak MP’s adopted an amendment to the Act on Mining. Cyanide leaching technology for gold processing in mining industry is finally banned with no option for local plebiscit to decide on cyanide leaching technology.
On September 10th, the General Assembly of the Slovak Parliament adop- ted the amendment in its plenary. The initiative came from the ruling party Smer that has a confortable majority in the Parliament. Slovakia is thus joining other indi- vidual governments that have already banned the use of cyanide in mining, such as the Czech Republic or Hungary. In May 2010 the European Parliament adopted a re- solution on a general ban on the use of cyanide in mining technologies throughout the European Union. Nevertheless, the European Commission declined to impose a EU-wide ban on cyanide because ‘a general ban on cyanide use would have a detrimental effect on employment’. Since then, further communities throughout the EU have been faced with mine proposals that involve the use of cyanide. From Greece, Romania, Spain, France, Bulgaria to Finland, citizens are mobilizing to ensure that toxic cyanide is banned.
The Slovakian amendment came in response to the gold mining projects planned in Kremnica and Detva (both in the Banská Bystrica Region). As Professor Jan G. Laitos explai- ned, “more than 90% of all gold extracted worldwide relies upon the use of cyanide. Cyanide is a chemical compound that bonds with gold, allowing it to be separated from other ele- ments. It is from the industry’s point of view a simple and cost effective process. No suitable alternatives with this little production costs exist. In other words, banning the use of cyanide in effect bans the extraction and production of cheap, toxic gold”.
“It cost a lot of effort but we made substantial progress to prevent toxic gold mining not only in Kremnica, but all over Slovakia,” declared a member of the ‘Kremnica nad zlato’ (Kremnica beyond gold) community. “We are confident that our victory will encourage other communities in their own countries to fight for a clean future and a ban on cyanide. More to this, Slovakia’s example should also be an incentive for the EU officials to end up toxic mining in Europe and implement the people’s will to ban cyanide.”
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