By Staff Reporter
A NEW cave for bats is being created near the Apliki mine to replace their current habitat in an area where Hellenic Copper Mines will restart copper extraction, its chief executive officer Constantinos Xydas said on Monday.
Constructing the cave is one of the preconditions the agriculture ministry’s environment department gave the mining company to obtain a licence to extract copper from West Apliki, an area 500 metres from the main Apliki mine, from which copper was mined from 1960 until 1974. The company is expected to start operations soon.
Green Party MP, George Perdikis, raised the question of the bats’ habitat in parliament on Monday before Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis who assured MPs the company had been issued with a number of measures it had to implement before mining could begin.
The party said that they still had reservations but that they would reserve judgement until after they had visited the area to see whether the measures were being implemented.
“Acquiring a licence was a very long process, but the company will fully abide by the rules and conditions given to us by all the relevant services, as we do with the operation of Skouriotissa,” Xydas told the Cyprus Mail.
Apliki is located 50 km northwest of Nicosia, and five km south west of the Skouriotissa mine, which the company also operates.
He added that the company had received several environmental awards.
According to an environmental impact report carried out by the environment department, a cave where a number of Rhinolophus blassi and Myotis nattereri bats now live will be destroyed as a result of the renewed mining activity.
Around 56 mouflons will also be displaced from the perimeter zone and the habitat will be degraded.
The department has ordered the company to create a new cave which the bats could use as a habitat and they must ensure that the existing cave is closed off before mining work starts to avoid trapping bats inside.
The company were also asked to create a new drinking trough for mouflons in the area as the operations will obstruct the animals from reaching the existing ones.
“Furthermore, as a mitigating measure the restoration and maintenance of the nearby ‘Mammari-Deneia’ shelter in the Natura 2000 network is advised as it has partially collapsed,” the study said.
The study has also requested that during the mating period of the Bonelli’s eagles (Aquila fasciata), found in the area, all disturbance should be avoided at a 2km distance from the birds’ nests.