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Energy Ministry defends decision to explore copper deposits in Dana Biosphere Reserve

By JT - Aug 19,2021 - Last updated at Aug 19,2021

AMMAN — The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources on Thursday said that studies have shown that the copper deposits in Dana Biosphere Reserve are estimated at around 45 million tonnes. 

Spread over 292 sq km in Tafileh Governorate, 180km southwest of the capital Amman, the Dana reserve is rich in copper and manganese ore, the ministry said in a statement citing studies by the Natural Resources Authority.

The authority, since 1966, has conducted exploration projects at the site, with a number of wells, tunnels and trenches being prepared, the statement added. 

Investments in the location are forecast to reach some JD200 million, the ministry said, adding that the prospective project will create nearly 1,000 direct jobs for local residents, in addition to some 2,500 indirect jobs.

The ministry added that previous studies indicated that the amount of copper deposits in the Feynan area is estimated at 20 million tonnes and 25 million tonnes in Khirbet Al Nahas.

The project to optimise copper in Dana Biosphere Reserve was based on studies conducted prior to its official nomination as a nature reserve, the ministry said.

Following the recognition of the nature reserve, previous governments and administrations had called for separating the location from the reserve to make copper mining possible, the statement added.    

The Cabinet in 2016 approved copper mining in Dana Biosphere Reserve within specific spots. Accordingly, a memorandum of understanding was signed with a mining company to carry out mining activities over an area of 61 sq km at the reserve’s northern region, the statement said.  

The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) has repeatedly denied the mining company’s access to the sites identified in the memo, so the company was unable to meet the requirements of the agreement, including studying the environmental impact on the southern region and completing the exploration studies in the northern region, the statement read.

The mining company has, so far, spent more than JD2 million of the project’s allocation of JD20 million, over consultancy and exploration licence fees, the statement said. 

The company has informed the Energy Ministry about its intention to withdraw from the project as contractors have been prevented from entering the site, the ministry said.

Pledging to give another piece of land in return for the mining site, the ministry said that the reserve would be compensated in lieu of the land to be converted as a mining location.

The area of the potential mining site inside the reserve is estimated at about 79 sq km. 

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