Turkish high court rejects cancelation of copper mine in Black Sea’s Cerattepe
ANKARATurkey’s Council of State has approved a local court decision on a major copper mine in the Black Sea province of Artvin, a project that has triggered strong reactions and protests by locals and environmentalists.
After an application by the Green Artvin Association to cancel the project, the top court ruled there was no need for the cancelation of it.
This verdict contradicted a decision in 2013 by the Council of State, abolishing an Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report by the Environment and Urban Planning Ministry, which approved the construction of the mine in the Cerattepe region of the Kafkasör highland.
The Rize Administrative Court turned back a demand for the cancelation of the project in October 2016 in a verdict in line with the ÇED report.
The court ruled in favor of the ministry’s report about the mining activities slated to be carried out by a mining company, rejecting the request for the cancellation of the report lodged by 751 plaintiffs and their 61 lawyers.
It also said that even in areas such as national parks, culture and tourism preservation sites and development regions, as well as touristic areas, it was possible to engage in mining activities because the planned mine was “not located within the banned areas.”
Cerattepe is 660 meters away from the park boundary, meaning it is not under the control of the tourism preservation and development area.
An expert report by academics from the Karadeniz Technical University (KTÜ) played a major role in the court decision.
The report said 500,000 tons of copper per year that will be extracted from the mine would be carried in closed-cabin cable cars, in a bid to cut down on environmentally hazardous effects.
This would also help prevent landslides, the report claimed.
Endemic plants in the region could be moved to other places, adding that concerns over the contamination of fresh water would also be invalid if the promised measures were taken.
Green Artvin Association president Nur Neşe Karahan and lawyer Bedrettin Kalın strongly criticized the verdict, as they spoke to reporters on July 6 on the sidelines of the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) ongoing “justice march” from Ankara to Istanbul.
“We never thought that justice was over to this extent. We didn’t expect such unjustified decisions. This will not change our decision. We will continue our struggle as a community and citizens,” Karahan said.
“This verdict shows that misery and vileness has climbed to top legal institutions,” Kalın said.
“We have seen that we will not find justice [in court]. We are now seeking justice through this march” the lawyer said, adding that they would also push for more judicial steps.
Eti Bakır A.Ş., the copper miner, applied to the Artvin Governor’s Office on Feb. 16, 2016, to take construction machines to Cerattepe, since there was no court decision about the ÇED report.
Locals erected barricades on the road to prevent construction machines from reaching the area.
After two days, machines entered the Cerattepe Area, with security officers using tear gas to disperse locals.
As the events escalated, then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu gave instructions to halt the work in Cerattepe until the court case ended.