Berkeley to take uranium mine dispute with Spain to arbitration

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Berkeley to take uranium mine dispute with Spain to arbitration

by Reuters

Australian mining group Berkeley Energia will take its dispute with Spain to international arbitration after the country refused to give final approval to a uranium mine near the city of Salamanca, the company said on Wednesday.

The Retortillo project, Berkeley’s main asset, received preliminary approval in 2013 but has since run into hurdles, including opposition from nearby communities and safety concerns from regulatory authorities.

Berkeley had estimated investment in excess of 250 million euros ($269 million) and more than 2,500 jobs in the region.

Spain’s Energy Ministry refused to approve the project in 2021, citing a negative opinion issued by the Nuclear Safety Council highlighting “poor reliability and high uncertainty of the safety analyses of the radioactive site”.

It upheld the refusal in February 2023 after the London-listed Berkeley appealed.

The company said in a filing to the Spanish stock market supervisor CNMV that specialist teams Herbert Smith Freehills Spain LLP and LCS Abogados will jointly prepare and submit a “request for arbitration” to the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

“Notwithstanding the investment dispute, Berkeley remains committed to the Salamanca project and continues to be open to a constructive dialogue with Spain” to find an amicable resolution, it said.

The Energy Ministry declined to comment.

Berkeley shares rose 17% in Madrid and 11% in London on Wednesday.

The company has said the rejection infringed on its rights under an international agreement known as the Energy Charter Treaty, designed to promote energy security through the operation of more open and competitive energy markets.