Turkish mining firm starts cutting trees in Kaz Mountains amid lawsuit against project

A mining company close to the Turkish government has begun cutting trees in a project that will affect an area as large as 685 football fields in Kaz Mountains, while a lawsuit against the project is pending. Villagers who do not sell their land are threatened with expropriation.

Duvar English

Turkish government’s close ally Cengiz Holding’s Truva Copper Corporations has started cutting down trees in the Kaz (Ida) Mountains despite the ongoing lawsuit against the project.

The company received a positive environmental impact assessment (ÇED) decision for the project on July 26, 2022. Upon the decision, many civil society organizations and citizens filed lawsuits and the court decided that the positive ÇED decision was unlawful, according to reporting by the daily Cumhuriyet. 

Following the decision, the company restarted the project process, and it received another positive ÇED decision on March 14.

Citizens and organizations who believe that the permission granted is unlawful have filed a second lawsuit. While the process was ongoing, Cengiz Holding had taken steps to purchase real estate in the region in recent months. 

In a letter to the local notary public, the company said that the sales of the real estate would be negotiated on Aug. 1 with the owners and a request would be made for their expropriation if no agreement could be reached. 

Villagers did not want to sell their land during the negotiations. Negotiations for expropriation were also held last March, but the villagers again refused to give up their land and filed a lawsuit against the expropriation decision.

According to the project file, 513.80 hectares of the area is forested. This corresponds to approximately 685 football fields. There are approximately 294,000 trees in the area, and it is estimated that there are 149,250 trees in the 257.79 hectares designated for mining activities.

Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA) also stated that the water supply in the region will decrease significantly and approximately  4,000 decares of land will dry up due to lack of water. 

“The mine alone will consume the water that amounted to more than 100,000 people living in Çanakkale province (where Kaz Mountains located) will use in a year. Considering the effects of the existing mining projects in the mountains and the climate crisis, a major water crisis will be inevitable in the province which has already experienced drought."

The association also released satellite images of the region to demonstrate the company's deforestation operations for mining site and road construction.