Environmental Impact Assessment

All quarry and mine projects, which exceed specific dimensions, or are located in Sensitive Areas, must complete a Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), as an essential formality for their licensing.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedure is governed by Decree-Law nr. 151-B/2013, of October 31th, emended by Decree-Law nr. 152-B/2017, of December 11th.

This procedure is based on an Environmental Impact Survey (EIS) and includes several phases, some of which have strict deadlines for their completion.

Completion of an EIA is required for all quarries and mines that are located in sensitive areas, regardless dimension.

Also any change or extension of the above-mentioned projects, that meet the thresholds established, are equally bound by the EIA procedure.

Environmental Impact Assessment
Establishing the EIA’s Scope Definition is a preliminary, and optional, phase of the procedure. It is a proposal which outlines the methodologies to be used and in which the relevant environmental aspects that might be affected by the project are examined. Those that must be addressed by the EIS are identified and reviewed.

Following receipt of the agreement notice of the Follow-up Committee (FC), appointed by the EIA Authority (CCDR or Portuguese Environment Agency – APA), a binding agreement on the content and detail of the environmental factors to be focused on by the EIS, are established between the parties.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) must provide a brief project description, including the identification and assessment of both, positive and negative likely impacts that the project may have on the environment. It should also focus on environmental management measures that will be undertaken to avoid, minimize or counterbalance expected negative impacts. In addition it should focus on measures leading to positive impacts, on the Monitoring Plan description and should present conclusions and recommendations.

The EIA addresses several environmental factors, and the depth of its approach depends on the type of project and on factors relative to its specific location. It should include all other relevant issues. The main environmental factors analyzed by the EIA are: Climate, Geology and Geomorphology, Soils and Land Use, Surface and Ground Water Resources, Water Quality, Air Quality, Environmental Noise, Flora and Habitats, Fauna, Landscape, Land Use Planning, Social and Economic Characteristics, and Archaeological issues. The environmental assessment, carried out in the EIS, focuses on the stages of implementation, exploitation, deactivation and post- deactivation of the quarry or mine.

The EIA comprises of a Summary Report, a Technical Report (when necessary), Annexes and a Non-Technical Summary.

After the EIA technical review period by the EIA Authority, which must include a public consultation, the follow up committee (FC) will announce the decision on the projects viability. The decision is considered to be legally binding. The EIS can be unfavourable, favourable or conditionally favourable. In the last case, the EIA Authority will establish conditions to be implemented by the applicant, as the project is progresses.

Following the EIA procedure, several actions must be undertaken during the stages of implementation, exploitation, deactivation and post-deactivation of the quarry or mine. Special attention being paid to the Periodic Monitoring of ongoing activities and associated environmental impacts.

Environmental Monitoring
Carrying out of Environmental Monitoring is usually a condition imposed by the licensing authority. Environmental monitoring will be required even if the project did not have to undergo the EIA process.

The environmental factors targeted by such campaigns always depend on the exploitation/production characteristics of each project under consideration and relate specifically to the area where activity is being undertaken. Usually, the monitoring focuses on Environmental Noise Level, Air Quality, Vibration, Water Quality and Landscape. The monitoring plan aims to measure the evolution of the environmental aspects under review, assess the compliance with legal framework and identify the impact of the extraction facility in the surrounding area. It also evaluates the effectiveness of the measures being implemented to minimize environmental impacts.

Environmental Noise, Air Quality and Vibration monitoring activities involve sophisticated equipment use, which allows verification of the compliance with legally established parameters. For monitoring of Water Quality, tests are performed “in situ”, and samples collected to undergo laboratory analysis. Landscape, Monitoring appraises progress of the recovery activities the success of vegetation growth.

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