Spanish regulator blocks Berkeley Energia's Retortillo uranium mine

Raquel Romo, 44, a member of the "Stop Uranium" group, poses near a sign that reads "Stop Uranium. No to the mine, yes to life" outside her parent's house near the site of a planned open-cast uranium mine by Australian mining company Berkeley Energia in the village of Retortillo, near Salamanca, Spain, October 17, 2018. REUTERS/Susana Vera

MADRID, July 12 (Reuters) - Spain's nuclear regulator on Monday blocked Berkeley Energia's planned uranium mine in the west of the country on safety concerns, in a move that was welcomed by environmental campaigners and sent the company's stock plunging.

The CSN regulator said it took the decision due to a lack of reliability and a high level of uncertainty over how radioactive waste would be stored at the facility.

The London-headquartered company, whose Madrid-listed shares slumped over 12% to 0.34 euros, said in a statement it refuted the CSN's assessment and was disappointed with the decision.

"The Company will strongly defend its position and will immediately consider the range of legal options available to it," it said.

The Stop Uranio environmental protection group, which has been campaigning against the mine's development, welcomed the decision.

"After a decade of mobilizing, we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with a decision based around technical criteria," it said.

Berkeley's Retortillo project in the western region of Salamanca received preliminary approval in early 2013 but has since faced local opposition.

Reuters reported in 2018 that the government would not grant Berkeley the necessary permits to operate.

The company had said the mine would run for 14 years, generating investment of over 250 million euros ($297 million)and more than 2,500 jobs in the region.

($1 = 0.8422 euros)

Reporting by Nathan Allen and Belén Carreño Editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Potter

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