Ruentex Cement Co’s proposal to expand its marble mining activities in Yilan County’s Nanao Township (南澳) was yesterday turned down by the Environmental Protection Administration’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) general assembly, on the grounds that the company has not finished the required procedures.
Ruentex has been mining marble in Lankan Mountain (蘭崁山) for more than three decades and has proposed expanding its mining area by 36 hectares — from the original 32 hectares — to a total of 68 hectares.
Before the EIA held an ad hoc meeting on the matter late last month, environmental protection group Citizens of the Earth, Taiwan (CET) said the expansion proposal should be rejected as the mine is located in a protected forest area on a slope with an average 72.4 percent gradient — steeper than the 40 percent gradient which is considered unsuitable for development activities.
Within minutes of starting the project deliberation at the EIA general assembly meeting yesterday, convener of the meeting EPA Deputy Minister Yeh Shin-cheng (葉欣誠) announced that “because it did not match the required procedures, we reject the case.”
The meeting determined that as the mine is located in a protected forest area, the company failed to fulfill the requirements of the Regulations for Managing Protected Forests (保安林經營準則). The regulations require a company to submit a development plan to the competent authority for examination, and have the authority and relevant agencies, academics, experts and residents’ representatives conduct an on-site inspection.
The case involves the livelihoods of at least 400 households, a Ruentex representative said, and the firm’s proposal is to continue operation at a mine that is already more than 30 years old, not digging a new mine.
He added that the company plans to resubmit the development plan after the required procedures are completed.