This is a conflict on water salinization in the Llobregat River. The potash mine is about 70 kms to the north of the city of Barcelona by the Llobregat and Cardener Rivers. This is one of the biggest potash mines in the world.
Excavation started in the 1920s. It became a state company, and later a private company, Iberpotash SA, from Israel.
Since 1977 in Cogulló, Sallent, a salt mountain has been growing that by 2013 is now 500 m high and occupies 47 ha. The journalist Antonio Cerrillo and the lawyer Sebastià Estradé (in La Vanguardia, 15 April 2013) explain that this is a major ecological risk for Catalonia because the rainfall carries the salt away to the Llobregat River. The exploitation of postah consists in separating the potash from the salt, which becomes waste.
Moreover, in Sallent, some parts of the village (near the train station) have suffered subsidence (and shaking of the ground) because of underground mining, and have been abandoned.
Many environmental and citizen groups, such as L'Alzina, MontSalat, Ecologistes en Acció, Grup de Defensa del Ter, Martorell Viu, Salvem el Gaià, Prou Sal, Xarxa per una Nova Cultura de l’Aigua y Aigua és Vida have complained against the 40 million tons salt mountain that keeps growing. Barcelona has been forced to install desalination plants in the Llobregat River, paid for by citizens through water invoicing.
There are big environmental liabilities amounting to 200 million euros that Iberpotash refuses to face. The local group Prou Sal de Sallent tried to negotiate solutions with the Catalan Water Agency, to no avail.
Complaints because of salinization of the Llobregat River down to its mouth next to Barcelona had started already in 1930-31, from inhabitants of towns next to the river, because of the bad quality of the water for domestic use and also for irrigation.