Berkeley Energia has initiated arbitration proceedings against Spain, claiming violations of the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) and seeking $1bn in damages, regarding a dispute over its uranium mine project near the city of Salamanca.

The dispute centres on the Retortillo uranium project, with Berkeley’s subsidiary, Berkeley Exploration Limited (BEL), filing a Request for Arbitration at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Despite previous attempts to engage in negotiations, the Spanish Government has not entered discussions regarding the dispute, the company said.

The Retortillo project obtained preliminary approval in 2013. Spain’s Energy Ministry, however, rejected the final approval for the project first in 2021 and again last year.

In November 2022, BEL notified Spain’s Prime Minister and the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (MITECO) of the ECT breaches and sought an amicable resolution.

The arbitration teams from Herbert Smith Freehills Spain and LCS Abogados are representing BEL in the proceedings.

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The Request for Arbitration follows Spain’s actions against Berkeley Minera España SA (BME) and the Salamanca project, which BEL claims have breached multiple provisions of the ECT.

Despite the ongoing legal challenge, BEL remains committed to the Salamanca project and is open to constructive dialogue with Spanish authorities.

The company expresses readiness to collaborate towards an amicable resolution of the permitting issues and is hopeful for near-term discussions.