Bauxite Mine Ecological Damage Draws Public Ire

Protests against Bauxite mining operations in Mount Shahvar have finally prompted the government to take action, as evidenced by an official visit to the site
Bauxite Mine Ecological  Damage Draws Public Ire Bauxite Mine Ecological  Damage Draws Public Ire

Following growing debate over the environmental impact of Bauxite mining in Mount Shahvar in Shahroud, Semnan Province, Deputy Minister for Industries, Mining and Trade Jafar Sarqeini made a trip to the place for field observation on Sunday evening without prior notice. 

Meanwhile, a group of protesters gathered in front of the site to demand the closure of the mine, known as Tash Bauxite Mine. 

Sarqeini got out of his vehicle for a few minutes to address the irate crowd, saying, "It was me who saved Mount Damavand [from mining activity], so rest assured that I give special attention to the environment," Mehr News Agency reported. 

He said the case will undergo expert scrutiny and the results will be reported to the public. 

"The mine was inspected and all points were noted down. Its report will soon be prepared," he said, pledging to respond to the public demand. Tasnim News Agency quoted him as saying that "after the observation, a specialized meeting will be held in Tehran with experts that visited the site to solve the problems caused by the bauxite mine." 

He has assured, according to Tasnim, that no permit for increasing extraction from Shahvar mine will be issued. 

"Mining can cause irreparable damage to soil, water and air, which are vital elements for human," he said. 

The report in question is to be submitted to the Majlis Research Center before any decisions are made.

  Public Demand  

Protesters, however, insisted that the operations must be terminated. 

"We will not give up on our rightful demand. The mine is victimizing Mount Shahvar and is destroying it more and more each day," one of the protesters who asked to remain anonymous said. 

He said tauntingly that the disaster is so visible that any alert person can notice except for those "who pretend to be asleep." 

"We believe that IMIDRO must not only shut down the mine, but also compensate for the losses caused by the operations," he said. 

IMIDRO, Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation, is a major state-owned holding company active in the mining sector in Iran. 

  Longtime Harm

For years, Mount Shahvar has been scratched and carved for the extraction of Bauxite, the chief commercial ore of aluminum, to feed Iran Alumina Company located in Jajarm, North Khorasan Province. 

The people and authorities of Shahroud have long been voicing grievances that the operations offer no benefit to the residents.

Experts and officials have noted that it has harmed the pristine nature of the area as well as the only source of water supply for eastern Semnan.  Disputes have escalated in recent days as destruction has intensified to involve government officials and parliamentarians. 

Hassan Hosseini Shahroudi, a lawmaker representing Shahroud in the Parliament had earlier lamented that "extraction from Tash Bauxite Mine started many years ago and continued against a backdrop of inaction by environmentalists and authorities' negligence without compliance with environmental and tourism appendices in the issuance of permits."

  Proponents' Logic 

Advocates of the operations, however, stick to the pretext of employment and economy to support the continuation of mining. 

They maintain that hundreds of people will lose their jobs with the closure of the mine. 

The economic aspects are also highlighted because the import of Bauxite or Aluminum is too costly at the moment and it would be more economical to exploit national resources.  

Certain groups also contend that the environmental damage has been exaggerated and is not life-threatening. 

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