Seventy-nine percent of an area of land spanning 1,294,355 hectares in Turkey’s Kaz Mountains in the western province of Çanakkale has been licensed for controversial mining projects, according to a report from the Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats (TEMA).
TEMA’s report was based on official figures provided by Turkey’s General Directorate of Mining Affairs (MAPEG).
The mine licensing shows a flagrant disregard for the integrity of the area’s national parks, forestland, and protected archaeological sites. Eighty percent of the Kaz Mountains National Park and 10 percent of Troy National Park has been licensed for mining.
Meanwhile, 42 percent of land in the area designated a protected archaeological site has been licensed for mining activities, according to TEMA’s report.
A year-long series of demonstrations from activists against to the plans resulted in the Canadian mining company temporarily halting activity in the area, though the company, Alamos Gold, announced earlier this month that it aimed to resume operations.
“For safety and security we chose to stop operations last summer, and construction at the site has remained at a standstill. We have yet to restart operations given our license is still pending,” Alamos Gold told Duvar English on July 16.
Chairman of the Çanakkale Bar Association’s Environmental and Urban Law Commission, lawyer Ahmet Ozan Yılmaz, said that the mining companies have already slaughtered four or five times the amount of forest land that they initially reported.
“It’s not technically possible to rehabilitate the forest entirely because it consists of an entire ecosystem,” Yılmaz said.