Cyprus Mail

Vote on gold factory permit postponed

By Elias Hazou

Aradippou locals claimed a temporary victory on Tuesday as their municipal council again delayed a contentious vote on granting a building permit to a precious metals refinery.

Instead, by a 5-4 show of hands the council moved to pass a list of questions to the private consultants who had prepared an environmental impact study on behalf of the company behind the proposed project, Khrysanera Ltd.

It’s understood that the questions to be forwarded to the consultants, as well as to the departments of the environment and of labour inspection, relate to the impact on the area from the refinery’s operation.

The motion was supported by the DISY team on the municipal council, outvoting the AKEL councillors who instead wanted the municipality to commission an independent environmental study.

It was not clear whether the municipality has set a timeframe for receiving the answers to their questions.

The project has cleared all other administrative hurdles except for a building permit from the local municipality, amid protests from residents worried about their health.

The selected site for the plant is designated for light industry only. But locals claim the planned facility consists of heavy industry, and accuse government officials of abusing loopholes in the law in order to categorise the plant as light industry.

Official documents seen by the Cyprus Mail indicate that the project was at some point re-classified to light industrial, suggesting that it was initially viewed as consisting of heavy industry.

There were rumours meanwhile that the company is now willing to consider a different location, perhaps close by and in an area designated for heavy industry.

It’s understood that Khrysanera’s overriding concern is that the plant should have easy access to roads and be in close proximity to Larnaca airport.

“We shall wait and see…for the time being it seems nothing is moving forward,” Elena Kalli, a local activist, told the Mail.

The environmental impact study carried out on behalf of the company had found that “the installation does not produce any polluting emissions worthy of mention.”

According to the same study, the installation is projected to generate, per year, 60.56kg of sulphur dioxide, 24.52kg of nitrogen oxides, 60.66kg of carbon monoxide, and 16.44kg of volatile organic compounds.

The company says it has all the equipment in place to contain emissions, and that all solid and liquid pollutants will be properly disposed of.

Khrysanera plans to import “gold feed material from a number of sources but the primary sources will be mines in West Africa, South America and Kazakhstan”.

Persons connected to the project earlier told the Mail that the refinery is expected to employ 75 people.

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