MAC: Mines and Communities

Czech Republic & Rio Tinto

Published by MAC on 2001-05-01

Czech Republic & Rio Tinto

From Parting Company, Autumn 2000

In mid August 2000 the Czech Senate passed an amendment to the government's Geology Bill which will ban the use of cyanide heap leaching technology by the gold mining industry. Friends of the Earth in Czechoslovakia described the passing of the amendment as "the last nail to the coffin of the gold mining projects" in the country. 1

Cyanide heap leach technology involves spraying cyanide solution over heaps of ore and tapping the dissolved gold solution from the base of the heap. Heap leach technology became the main large scale technology in the 1980s for developing lower grade ore bodies and reprocessing old tailings dumps.

The amendment to ban cyanide heap leaching ban followed a strong campaign by local communities and Friends of the Earth against the Mokrsko project owned by Rio Tinto and the Kasperske Hory project owned by the US company TVX Gold.

The amendments gained support from the Senate as well as the Minister of Environment, Milos Kuzvart, who was the sponsor of the original bill. "The law marks the last step in several years long controversy over gold mining projects in the Czech Republic", Friends of the Earth mining campaigner, Vojtech Kotecky, said.

Friends of the Earth, "Czechs ban cyanide mining", Media Release, 10 August 2000

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