By Dr. Terry Mudder

Chelopech Mining, a subsidiary of the Canadian firm Dundee Precious Metals was awarded the international Green Apple award for best environmental practice in Europe for 2006. However, for more than ten months the company has been waiting for the Minister of the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Waters to finally approve the mine's expansion and metal processing facility development. The Minister hasn’t provided an opinion despite thelegal deadline expired in March for him to do so. Chelopech Mining became the first company from Bulgaria honored with this prestigious award. The Green Apple awards are presented each year by the British Green Organization at a ceremony in the house of the British Parliament. Either industry, governmental institutions, or NGOs can be nominated for their achievements in the environmental stewardship andprotection. The award was presented to Chelopech Mining for its environmental program at its gold-copper mine. At the end of 2004 the company started rehabilitation of previously damaged areas. The eastern ground of the mine was rehabilitated and reforested with 20,000 trees. A considerable volume of acid generating waste rock has been removed from surface as well and deposited in a manner which will minimize the environment impacts.It is the first rehabilitation project in the gold-copper mine for 50 years. The$175M USD Chelopech Mining project was approved twice by the Supreme Expert Environmental Council. It has the support of the Ministry of Economy and Energy, the Ministry of Health, various business organizations, and the local authorities in the village of Chelopech.