MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Turkey: Mount Ida SOS!

Published by MAC on 2007-10-29


Turkey: Mount Ida SOS!

29th October 2007

by Environmental Coalition of Mount Ida

Canadian Gold miners, Eldorado (Tuprag) and Teck Cominco, are poised to set upon one of the most valuable eco-regions of bio-diversity, not only in Turkey but also in Europe. Drilling on Mount Ida (Kaz Daglari, in Turkish) near ancient Troy in northwestern Anatolia has roused residents and environmentalists. We need your solidarity.

In ancient times, Mount Ida was sacred to the Phyrigian goddess Cybele. Homer, in the Illiad, called it «Mount Ida of a thousand springs.» Indeed, the mountain is a rich source of clean water, with more than 1.3 billion cubic meters feeding hundreds of brooks and streams. The fir forests on its slopes are the second most efficient producers of oxygen and eliminators of C02 in the world (the Alps are the first). They shelter dozens of rare and endemic plant species, and the foothills are covered with apple and peach orchards, olive groves and vineyards.

In l993, a 21300 hectare area (30% of the Mount Ida region) near the Bay of Adramyttion was designated a National Park. In 2007, the mayor of the city of Canakkale (the Dardanelles) called on the Turkish Parliament to include the entire mountain and its foothills in the designation. But even the status of National Park may not protect Mount Ida from gold miners.

In 2004, the government of Turkey amended the country's mining legislation, to open up the coasts, national parks, historic sites, forests and agricultural lands to mining. The Constitutional Court challenge, which local municipalities, villagers, olive producers and environmentalists launched in 2004 to repel this legislation, is still pending.

In 2007, Canadian Eldorado (Tuprag), Teck Cominco and eight other firms started to drill for gold at 36 different locations on the once sacred mountain. Rumour has it that Mount Ida has 250-300 tons of gold reserves. Already, junipers that were more than a hundred-years-old are cut for the drilling, and many village wells have turned muddy.

The destruction of archaeological and mythological sites is alarming enough, but the devastation of the forests and the contamination of the underground water with cyanide are survival issues, especially at a time when Eastern Europe and Anatolia are facing severe draughts due to climate change. The existence of active fault lines in the region represents an earthquake risk that could be catastrophic.

Municipal governments, local residents, olive producers and environmentalists will resist gold mining on Mount Ida. They are preparing for a long, bitter struggle.

For more information: Üstün Bilgen-Reinart for the Environmental Coalition of Mount Ida. (Canakkale Cevre Platformu)

reinart@metu.edu.tr tel: 90 312 2106834

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