Fate of preserved lake in the storied Kaz Mountains entrusted to gold miners

Fate of preserved lake in the storied Kaz Mountains entrusted to gold miners

Fate of preserved lake in the storied Kaz Mountains entrusted to gold miners

File photo of a gold mining site in the Kaz Mountains. DHA Photo

The Environment Ministry has approved a gold mining project in a preserved rural area in the storied Kaz Mountains along Turkey’s northwestern Aegean Coast, which will impact 24 villages, a preserved lake and several archeological sites.

Ministry officials have approved the environment impact assessment report for the activities of Canadian company Alamos Gold on the Ağı mountain, but experts said the project would cause significant damage to the environment in the area, particularly to water resources.

Biologists from Çanakkale’s March 18 University have warned that waste waters from the gold mining activities may threaten Lake Ciğer (which means “lung” in English”) with extinction. The wetland lake ecosystem dates back 1,300 years and must be protected against external factors in order to be preserved, according to experts, who say the area has a high rate of endemic plants due to its particular characteristics.

A project for the “ecological restoration” of Lake Ciğer was submitted to the National Biology Congress back in 2012 by a team of academics from Çanakkale Univerisity, daily Evrensel reported.

Meanwhile, the local administration in Çanakkale has warned that the mine will contaminate the water resources of 24 villages, leaving the water unusable. The company has promised to build an artificial pond, but it is unknown whether this will be enough to solve the water problem that will arise from contamination.

Also according to the environmental impact assessment report approved by the ministry, there are two archeological sites near the project area. One of them, Kıraç Tepe, a first degree archeological site and a naturally preserved area, lies only 500 meters north from the limits of the project area.

The gold mining site will also be built only 14.5 kilometers from the Kaz Mountains national park, one of the most important nature reserves in the region.

The chain, known as the İda Mountains in Greek mythology, offers some of the richest flora in Turkey and is especially well known for its water springs. However, the region’s mineral richness is also its curse, which has led to its exploitation by myriad mining companies.

Turkey has long been criticized for its lack of regulations and monitoring of mining activities across the country, particularly near protected areas such as the Kaz Mountains.