Black Sea highlanders form 3-km human chain against gold, copper mine project
The mine is set to be established at Cerattepe near Kafkasör, one of the greenest and most beautiful highland meadows in the country. The side is surrounded by the Genya Mountains and the Karçal Mountains further east – the latter are counted among the most important areas in need of protection in the country, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. DHA PhotoA group of villagers has risen against the establishment of mines to extract gold, silver and copper in Artvin, after a court gave the green light to a mining company by controversially approving the mandatory environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report for the project.
Over 500 people formed a three-kilometer-long human chain in the eastern Black Sea province to protest the mine project as experts visited the site to prepare a report to be issued for the appeal trial, demanding the cancelation of the report.
The mine is set to be established at Cerattepe near Kafkasör, one of the greenest and most beautiful highland meadows in the country. The side is surrounded by the Genya Mountains and the Karçal Mountains further east – the latter are counted among the most important areas in need of protection in the country, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature.
The Energy Ministry approved mining projects in the area in 2012, including the extraction of gold with cyanide.
Artvin locals have launched legal action after the ÇED report for the copper mine was accepted following the tender bidding process.
The demonstrators chanted slogans against the mine companies and opened several banners vowing not to give up without a fight. One of the banners unfurled during the protest used a play on words, saying, “Artvin’s surface is more precious than underneath/gold.”
Bedrettin Kalın, a lawyer representing the local associations, denounced the incoherence of allowing mining extraction in a region that has been declared a Tourism Protection and Development site.
“The Hatilla National Park lies just next to this area. The region has 20 endemic plants and is the migration route of two raptors only found in Turkey. Twenty-one mammals also live here. All the potable water sources of Artvin are in this area too,” said Kalın.
“They have showed the mines as if they figured in the Landscape Master Plan. They don’t; this is a lie made to dupe the court,” he said.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) Artvin deputy Uğur Bayraktutan said people had been threatened so as not to oppose the project. “I know how the bid for the mines was carried out. They sent me their man who told me to give up on this,” he said.
The group dispersed peacefully following the protest. Dozens of projects for mines and hydroelectric plants (HES) have raised huge controversy across the country as most of them are planned in the country’s most important natural areas.
In many cases, locals have taken legal action but have struggled to make their voices heard against energy companies whose projects continue to multiply with the blessing of the government.