Expert report rules against environmental clearance for pro-gov't firm's mine project in Kaz Mountains

An expert report has ruled against an environmental clearance given to a copper mining project to be led by the pro-government company Cengiz Holding in the contested Kaz Mountains in western Turkey.

Activists hold a banner reading 'We do not want Cengiz Holding in Kaz Mountains' in this file photo.

Seçkin Sağlam / DUVAR 

The Cengiz Holding firm, which is known for its close ties with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), purchased a copper mine in the Kaz Mountains of western Turkey from its Canadian owner, Liberty Gold, for 55 million dollars.

This sparked widespread protests during which activists temporarily forced the company to halt its activities in the Kaz Mountains. Environmentalists have repeatedly warned that the project would be disastrous for the region.

Cengiz Holding’s activities nonetheless resumed, and the project received a positive Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization in July 2021. 

But environmental organizations have continued to oppose the project, saying that its main objective has to do with a gold mine, though Cengiz Holding says it seeks to mine a copper quarry.

On Nov. 21, 2021, the Çanakkale Administrative Court committee conducted an expert examination regarding the project, which was handed to the company and the environmental organizations involved. The report stated that the Environment and Urbanization Ministry's “positive evaluation” was “inappropriate.”

Several organizations, including the TEMA Foundation, the Çan Environment Association, Chamber of Agricultural Engineers, the Chamber of Environmental Engineers, and the Kaz Mountains Ecology Platform filed lawsuits requesting the annulment of the Environment and Urbanization Ministry's decision.

During the expert examination that was carried out by the Çanakkale Administrative Court committee and in which many environmental organizations took place, a brief brawl occurred.

After having evaluated the expert report, the Kaz Mountains Ecology Platform said they expected the Çanakkale Administrative Court to make a decision in line with the report.

“Science has concluded that our forests, agricultural land and archaeological sites could not be destroyed for gold-copper mines. We expect the law, by siding with science, will immediately decide to suspend the execution,” it stated.

The cost of Cengiz Holding’s project is estimated at 923 million liras and the Environment and Urbanization Ministry’s permit area spans approximately 600 hectares.