MAC: Mines and Communities

Highest Turkish court rules to close Canadian-owned gold mine

Published by MAC on 2007-07-22

Highest Turkish court rules to close Canadian-owned gold mine

by Ustun Bilgen-Reinhart, MineAction

22nd July 2007

Turkish environmentalists are celebrating a new ruling of the Turkish State Council that closes a Canadian gold mine. The highest court in Turkey decided on July 9 that the Environmental Impact Assessment of the goldmine in Usak-Esme, owned by Tuprag – a subsidiary of the Canadian Eldorado Gold Corporation is «clearly illegal» and that the continued operation of the mine would cause irreparable harm. The mine will have to be shut down within thirty days of the ruling.

Tuprag-Eldorado started trial production in Usak-Esme, in May 2006, despite the opposition of local villagers and Turkish environmentalists. The company has cut 22 000 trees and bought out several villages in the region to produce gold using the primitive and highly dangerous sodium cyanide heap leach method in a ..... area.

In June 2006, more than 1000 villagers in Esme-Usak turned up at hospital emergency wards, with symptoms that raised fears of cyanide poisoning. Despite attempts to obstruct the obtaining of blood samples from the sick villagers, Dr. Oya Otyildiz was able to obtain some samples and the analysis confirmed the worst fears.

This is the second State Council decision in Turkey against gold mining with sodium cyanide. In 1997, a goldmine in Bergama, the first to be established in the country, was ruled unconstituional – but the Turkish government violated that ruling by issuing a special permit to Newmont, which then owned the company. Since then, the Turkish Government had to pay thousands of Euros in compensation to villagers who won court cases at the European Human Rights Court in Strazbourg.

Turkish environmentalists: villagers, lawyers and proffesional chambers who launched the court case against Eldorado are calling on the company to heed this high court ruling, to close up its mine at Usak-Esme and go away.


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