Activists denounce ‘savage mining’ in Manisa, as project could wipe out two million trees
MANİSA – Doğan News Agency
Representatives of several NGOs and civil activist groups gathered on Nov. 24 near Çaldağı to denounce a new nickel mine project in the area. DHA PhotoActivists, unions and opposition lawmakers have voiced their outrage after Turkey’s Environment Ministry gave the go-ahead for a nickel mine project that could lead to the felling of 2 million trees in Çaldağı, in the Aegean province of Manisa.
Representatives of several NGOs and civil activist groups gathered on Nov. 24 near the small town, which is becoming one of the flashpoints of resistance against massive mining projects in preserved natural areas across Turkey.
The Environment Ministry controversially approved the mandatory impact assessment report (ÇED) on Nov. 14, clearing the path for the start of extracting activities in the area, including the use of tons of highly toxic sulfuric acid.
The crowd denounced “savage mining” projects that ignore damage to surrounding natural areas, while lambasting the ministry for failing to act in line with its name and purpose.
“We are condemning the ruling mindset that only protects the interests of corporations and shuts its eyes to the demands of the people. We do not recognize the approval of the environmental impact assessment report. We will not give a free pass to savage mining,” said the group in a public statement.
200,000 trees already felled, more to come
Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Manisa deputy Hasan Ören, who attended the demonstrations, said 200,000 trees have already been felled by the company, will more in line.
“If we were to count trees recently planted, the number is 500,000. We will make them pay for these massacres,” Ören said. He added that a recent proposal to establish an inquiry commission on the project was rejected at Parliament by ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies.
The new project in the Turgutlu district of Manisa comes only weeks after 6,000 trees were felled in an olive plantation in the Yırca village near Soma, further north, for the construction of a new coal plant. The project was eventually cancelled after Turkey’s Council of State deemed the land expropriation decision illegal amid a nationwide outcry.
CHP Manisa lawmaker Özgür Özel, who also actively supported Yırca locals in their fight to prevent the constructor company cutting down trees prior the conclusion of the legal process, called on Environment Minister İdris Güllüce to cancel the impact assessment report regarding the Çaldağı nickel mine.
“Prove to us that you love nature. Otherwise, as Turgutlu, Manisa and Turkey, every environmental activist and lover of nature will continue to resist,” Özel said.
The mining project was initially set to be built by the British European Nickel company, which sold its assets to the local company VGT two years ago amid claims that the latter was actually only an artificial, fly-by-night company.
Çaldağı has been suffering due to pollution from several nickel extraction activities in the region, but activists say the latest mine could further damage agriculture in the region, which is the main source of income for locals. The area is also known for its many vineyards.