Copper mining in Dana Reserve might proceed soon — Minister

Dana new
(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Saleh Kharabsheh said on Sunday that mining for copper in the Dana Reserve might proceed soon, provided all effects on the environment are taken into consideration in the process and studies are done to attest to the economic feasibility of extracting it, according to a local news outlet. اضافة اعلان

Head of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) Khaled Irani told Jordan News that “initially, the position of the RSCN was that it was fully opposed to mining projects in Dana. After some experts have claimed that the value of copper in Dana was worth billions of dollars, as of today, our position is that we are against amending a specific area of the reserve to be designated for mining, but if extensive feasibility studies conclusively prove that there is in fact copper in the worth of billions present in the reserve, then we can talk.”

“Potential copper extraction can potentially lead to environmental issues to the plant species in Dana, not to mention the numerous unique archaeological sites in the reserve. Mining is a destructive industry, their impact on Dana’s tourism could be detrimental, due to noise pollution and other factors. We are trying to reach a compromise with the Ministry of Energy, which aims to ensure that the studies conducted in the reserve would occur in its least sensitive areas,” Irani remarked.

According to Desert Bloom for Training and Sustainable Development, a local non-profit foundation, Dana happens to be the largest nature reserve in Jordan, covering approximately The reserve is home to numerous animals that belong to endangered species, like the Nubian Ibex, the Blandford Fox, and the Syrian Serin (bird in the finch family); 833 different plant species are also found in Dana, which make up a third of the country’s plant species and make the reserve one of the most biodiverse areas in the Kingdom.

Currently, the UNESCO deliberates granting Dana the “World Heritage Site status”; the reserve has been on the tentative list of World Heritage Site since 2007.

Head of the Ministry of Energy’s Mineral Resources Division Laith Abu Affar told Jordan News that final approval for copper extraction to proceed depends “on the results of upcoming feasibility studies conducted by certain companies. These studies evaluate the presence of copper in the area, and discuss the best methods for extraction, how much copper can possibly be extracted, while mentioning notable environmental issues to determine if such a project is feasible”.

Abu Affar added that “two companies have submitted bids to engage in the copper extraction project, one local and the other foreign. Their bid is being fully assessed by the ministry. The cost of the project is still unclear, it depends on the studies which will be conducted by the companies involved in the project”.

While the companies that will conduct feasibility studies will assess the concentration of copper found in certain rocks, the ministry will examine all potential “environmental effects that might result from the extraction, and will collaborate with the entities conducting the studies to search for the most environmentally friendly methods”, added Abu Affar.

Chairman of the local NGO Edama Dureid Mahasneh told Jordan News that, according to his knowledge, “only copper is being targeted in the Dana Reserve. There are no official talks about other materials, like gold. While I am not aware of the cost of the project, it is important to note that no studies have so far officially proved that there are abundant copper deposits in the reserve,” he said.

If the project gets approved and turns out to be successful, there are a number of environmental costs that cannot be ignored, stressed Mahasneh.

“Copper is a mineral found in rocks, usually through colored lines that indicate where the copper is. The process of extracting copper is not merely a process of simple digging and drilling; it involves a complete destruction of the area using specialized machinery and excavators, which would most likely affect the shape and structure of nearby mountains,” Mahasneh said.

That is a disturbing concern, said Mahasneh; it “would kill all greenery in the area, and wildlife, and will increase carbon emissions. Most likely, this will lead to wildlife being displaced because such excavation will affect its access to food and sleeping shelters”.

“I do not buy the argument that Jordan needs to proceed with the copper extraction projects in Dana because it is supposedly economically beneficial. This is a precious area that is globally recognized. We cannot just impulsively wreck the area,” Mahasneh argued.

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