Activists from the organization “Healthy Valley” are asserting that the construction of the new copper and gold mine “Ilovica – Shtuka” will lead to the deterioration and death of the fertile and heavily populated Strumica valley, where it will be built. The activists say it will also cause harm to regions in Greece and Bulgaria near Strumica and are threatening protests and legal action to anyone involved in the construction of the mine, which was given a green light by the Government.

We will be organizing protests until the Administrative Court takes back their decision. This is so serious that one day all the people involved will have to face justice. This is criminal and someone needs to pay, said municipal council member in Novo Selo and member of “Healthy Valley” Konstantin Ristomanov.

The Government’s decision was published in the newest edition of the Official Gazette, where the public was informed that the concessions for exploitation of copper and gold in Ilovica by the Canadian company Euromax will be allowed after an administrative merger, and therefore the mine will be opened – despite years of protests and referendums by the local citizens.

How is it possible for the court to change their decision after only 12 months, especially because this decision is contrary with the previous one agreed a year ago, added Ristomanov.

The project provides building a mining dam 276 meters (905 feet) tall above the villages of Shtuka and Ilovica. The dam will be used to prevent the spillage of toxic chemicals. The activists claim that if the dam breaks, it could contaminate and forever ruin the soil in Strumica valley.

In 2019 the then Government under Zoran Zaev made a decision not to allow the building the mine, citing health concerns, and Zaev’s SDSM party agitated against the mine. But since then, it was reported that Zaev set up companies in Bulgaria, planning to take a good chunk of the lucrative construction work related with the mine. Also, a company from Tetovo close to the DUI party reportedly purchased a significant share in Euromax. These two developments worried the environmental activists and the opposition parties, who predicted that DUI and SDSM will eventually allow the mine to be constructed, once their personal interests have been satisfied.