MAC: Mines and Communities

Turkish government jumps gold claims

Published by MAC on 2008-01-05

Turkish government jumps gold claims

5th January 2008

by Turkish Daily News

A recent decision by the Turkish cabinet to nationalize 35 parcels of land in Efemçukuru village in Izmir's Menderes district has caused protests among environmentalists. After nationalization the Government plans to hand the land over to TÜPRAG Mining Company, owned by Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold Corporation.

The cabinet's decision requires that the land in question will be urgently nationalized by the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry to serve for TÜPRAG Metal Madencilik production activities. The decision was taken on Dec. 10, under Article 27 of the Nationalization Law, which is intended for national emergencies.

Aegean Environmental and Cultural Platform (EGEÇEP) spokesman Arif Ali Cangi told the Dogan news agency that the government tries to take advantage of Article 27, adding that unless an appeal is made within a month at the latest, the nationalization process will be completed.

Cangi said that the decision completely ignored the potable water needs of Izmir residents, as the gold mine would be located in the Tahtali Dam protection zone and on the river that was feeding the Çamli Dam – Izmir's main sources of water.

"To pave the way for this gold mine development, the Environment and Forestry Ministry has ignored Izmir Metropolitan Municipality's application concerning Çamli Dam for another Environmental Impact Report (EIR)," claimed Cangi.

"Last year TÜPRAG made an offer to the villagers to buy their lands but the villagers' response was to burn the invitation letters," said Cangi, adding that the villagers now had to bring an action for rescission in the Council of State. He also urged Izmir Metropolitan Municipality to take action before it was too late.

Villagers also react to the decision:

The economy of Efemçukuru, located 20 kilometers near Izmir, depends on vineyards. Izmir Metropolitan Municipality has also launched a project in the village to promote organic agriculture in order to save the basin that covers an important part of city's water supply from pollution. Yet, the villagers are now in despair due to the nationalization decision of the government.

"There is no public interest in this nationalization," said Mustafa Mizrak, a farmer from Efemçukuru, to the Turkish Daily News . "This decision is only in the interests of TÜPRAG."

"We went to Bergama and Usak to speak with people there, who earlier fought against mining companies to save their lands. We consulted academics. We all believe that this mine, if it operates, would ruin the Aegean basin and the natural resources in the area. We urge the government to annul this decision," said another villager, Ibrahim Uysal.

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