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July 4 2022 9:34 AM ˚
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Dispute continues over 45 million tons of copper in Dana

(Photo: Pixabay)
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AMMAN  — On Thursday, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources revealed that according studies previously conducted by the Natural Resources Authority, the quantity of copper in the Faynan area was estimated at 20 million tons, and in the Khirbet Al-Nahhas area at about 25 million tons.اضافة اعلان

The Ministry said that the issue of the exploitation of copper in the Dana Reserve, based on the above-mentioned studies, existed before the official declaration of the reserve. After the area had been declared a nature reserve, the government and previous administrations had called for the removal of areas with copper ore from the reserve to facilitate its work.

According to a statement from the Ministry, “The Council of Ministers agreed in 2016 to allow exploration for copper and manganese within the coordinates of a specific area of the Dana Reserve according to the importance of the exploitation of ore as a national wealth that boosts the economy and create job opportunities.”

A memorandum of understanding was signed on February 14, 2016, with the Integrated Mining and Exploration Company within the coordinates of a specific area in the reserve, which includes 61 km2 in the northern area of the reserve (Khirbat al-Nahhas) and 45 km2 of the southern area of the reserve (Finan). It was noted that the overall area of the Dana Reserve is 292. km2.

The memorandum has been extended four times since the date of the original agreement.

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature has repeatedly expressed its position, in standing against the company and its consultants entering many areas of the reserve which are included in the memorandum of understanding. Since 2016, the Integrated Mining and Exploration Company has been unable to complete the requirements of the memorandum, including the study of the environmental impact on the southern region and completion of excavation studies for the northern region.

To date, the company has spent more than two million dinars in consultancy costs for foreign companies, as well as on various studies, surveys, and excavation licensing fees, out of a total 20 million dollars allocated for the project at this stage. Preliminary studies of the northern region of Dana reserve identified in the memorandum of understanding have shown a reserve of more than 40 million tons of copper.

The company informed the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of its desire to withdraw from the project, according to Al Ghad. Additionally, they justified their withdrawal due to not being able to implement the requirements of the memorandum of understanding, as the company and its contractors were still prevented from entering the area stipulated in the memorandum of understanding by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Wealth asserts that cooperation is required between all stakeholders in the reserve and the mineral resources area, as reported by Al Ghad. The Ministry also state that it is necessary to maintain a balance between the protection of the reserve facilities and the protection of their biodiversity and the exploitation of copper, manganese and other associated minerals in the reserve area.

According to arguments from the Ministry and Integrated Mining and Exploration Company, there remains a need for investment in the exploitation of copper. Therefore, it was negotiated with the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature through the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Environment to determine an area in the Dana Reserve for detailed prospecting for copper.

The negotiation concluded that it would be the least harmful if copper was cut out of the reserve, provided that the reserve would be compensated with an alternative area to maintain the natural, vital and touristic assets, and according to the prevailing international standards. The agreement was reached between the two parties to determine the necessary coordinates which recommended the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources will deduct land and replace the reserve with the same biodiversity after consulting all concerned authorities and according to the regulations and laws. The area of the area that was identified for deduction is around 79 km2.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Wealth has confirmed its interest in environmental conservation and vital diversification, while at the same time paying attention to promising investment projects, preserving the rights and interests of all parties, including local communities, and expanding employment opportunities. The cost of investing in the area is expected to be around 200 million dinars and to provide employment opportunities, especially for people in the surrounding areas, estimated at 1,000 direct jobs and about 2,500 indirect jobs.

Studies by the Authority of Natural Sources in the Dana region have shown that the area is mainly rich in copper ore and manganese ore. Since 1966, the Natural Sources Authority has carried out excavation studies of the area, and many wells, trenches, and tunnels have been dug for this purpose.

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