CHP reveals İliç mine capacity increase approval document signed by Murat Kurum

Turkey’s main opposition CHP has published documents revealing that Murat Kurum, the runner-up Istanbul mayoral candidate of the AKP, was the top official who granted the second capacity increase permit to the İliç gold mine, where nine workers were killed in a landslide.

Duvar English

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy chair Deniz Yavuzyılmaz shared documents signed by the former Environment Minister and the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) defeated Istanbul mayoral candidate Murat Kurum had signed the capacity increase approval for Çöpler Gold Mine in Erzincan province’s İliç district.

Nine workers on Feb. 13 were trapped under tonnes of chemical-contaminated soil that slid in the mine. Experts later found that the soil heap was overloaded beyond regulation volumes.

Deputy chair Yavuzyılmaz said, "There was a document that the government kept secret after the mine disaster and we have reached this document. Murat Kurum, the then minister, personally gave the Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) approval decision with the document which he personally signed.”

He stated that Kurum was at primary fault in the mining disaster. "According to the expert report submitted to the İliç Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, the officials who issued the positive ÇED report are primarily at fault. Kurum, with this decision and his signature, paved the way for the accident in which nine miners were martyred,” CHP official underscored.

Yavuzyılmaz added that the chief public prosecutor's office should prepare a summary of proceedings against Kurum and his legislative immunity as a lawmaker should be lifted by the parliament, paving the way for his trial.

What happened?

Even more than 100 days after the disaster, search teams could only recover the bodies of four workers. Five bodies remain under the massive soil heap as rescue efforts continue.

Experts noted that such a disaster at the mine was a long time coming, despite their repeated warnings. The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (TMMOB) warned against the “demolition, sliding, and slipping risks” in the mining facility months before the accident.

On 24 May, six people, including mine's owner Anagold company's chair of the board of directors Cengiz Yalçın Demirci, were arrested following a new expert report on the mine disaster.

In the new expert report on the disaster, the incident was described as an "occupational accident" and 13 people, including Demirci, were deemed to be primarily at fault.

In addition, the authorities who signed a positive ÇED report were also found to be at fault by the experts. The experts reported that 26 people were found to be at secondary fault.

The report also stated that contamination was detected in the water resources in the region in contrary to the government's previous statements.

According to the report, heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, copper, zinc, nickel, silver, cobalt, cobalt, iron and aluminium exceeded the permissible limit values in Bağıştaş Dam, Sabırlı Stream, and Çöpler Stream.