MADRID, Oct 20 (Reuters) - A Spanish court said on Thursday it has reopened a case examining alleged irregularities in the tender process for a mine contract won by Grupo Mexico in the Andalusia region.
A lesser regional court cleared the Mexican company last November of any wrongdoing over its winning bid to reopen the Aznalcollar copper, zinc and lead mine in southern Spain, but an appeal by a rival bidder has now been accepted.
“There are indications at this stage that there might have been not only irregularities in the administrative process, but ones that are sufficiently serious that it is necessary to keep this case going,” the Seville regional court said in a written ruling.
Andalusia’s regional government was responsible for awarding the 30-year concession to a Grupo Mexico-Minorbis consortium in February 2015.
A competing bidder in the process, Canada’s Emerita Resources, raised allegations of corruption when it lost out to the Mexican firm.
Grupo Mexico was not immediately available for comment.
Spain is hoping to re-open the mine after it was shut down following a toxic waste spill in 1998 that caused widespread damage to the neighbouring Donana National Park, one of Europe’s largest nature reserves.
UNESCO, the U.N.’s cultural agency, has raised concerns over whether the mine’s reopening will further endanger Donana’s protected wetlands, which are used by millions of migratory birds and rare species, and has asked Spain to do a risk assessment by December. (Reporting by Rodrigo de Miguel and Natalie Schachar; Writing by Paul Day, Editing by Sarah White and Susan Fenton)