Quantum Minería wants to extract rare earth elements from groundwater

Campo Montiel. Photo by Sí a la Tierra Viva.

Following the Castilla-La Mancha government’s rejection of its rare earth project near the Campo de Montiel county in central Spain, Quantum Minería is now asking the Guadiana river Hydrographic Confederation for a permit to explore groundwater 200 metres deep, where the company believes there is monazite.

The rare earth element, commonly found in placer deposits, is used in the manufacturing of electronic devices.

According to Spanish media, the information regarding Quantum’s request was revealed by the platform Sí a la Tierra Viva (Yes to Living Earth). The document the activists obtained shows that the Madrid-based miner wants to carry out some reconnaissance work in an area of 340 square kilometres near the town of Torrenueva. The idea is to verify the existence of a continuous flow of 2.7 litres per second, as the company would like to process 87,730 cubic metres of water per year.

However, Sí a la Tierra Viva says such plans contravene local water policies which state that the community is responsible for making sure that water sources are protected and used in a rational and sustainable way. Members also say that Quantum’s plans are incompatible with the fact that farmers in the area are having difficulties accessing scarce water resources, particularly nowadays that dry seasons last for longer than in previous decades.

The activists also state that an approval for this project would be a complete contradiction of the previous denial of Quantum’s environmental permits, as it was established that rare earth mining activities would put at risk the habitat and passage area for steppe birds, the Iberian lynx, the little bustard, the royal kite and the imperial eagle, all of them included in the catalog of endangered species.