Gold mining activities not located on Mount Ida, says ruling AKP spokesperson

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The ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) spokesperson has refuted reports that gold mining activities which has come under fire were taking place on Mount Ida – or Kaz Mountains – in the northwestern province of Çanakkale, saying they were actually being carried out 40 kilometers from the mountains.

“We are very sensitive about environmental issues in Turkey, including Mount Ida. One of the things we are proud of is the reforestation activities that have been carried out during our government’s rule,” Ömer Çelik said in a press conference on Aug. 7.

Gold mining activities on Mount Ida and the reported deforestation of tens of thousands of trees drew nationwide outcry over what activists call the “massacre of nature.”

“It is an obvious lie that the mentioned mine is in Mount Ida. There is a 40-kilometer distance [between the mine and the mountain]. The [mine] is not in Mount Ida,” he said.

Çelik added that the trees cut down in the area for mining activities were compensated by saplings planted in the same numbers.

But activists say the firm overseeing the gold mining activities cut down four times the number of trees than it declared in an environmental impact report.

Çelik said 14,000 saplings were planted in return for 13,000 trees cut down.

“We will not allow anything breaching the environmental impact assessment report to happen,” he said. “Just this year, more than 2.5 million saplings have been planted in Çanakkale.”

Alamos Gold Inc., the Canadian company which has been carrying out the mining, is liable for reforestation, as part of the contract, after its activities conclude, Çelik added.

“According to the contract of [Alamos Gold Inc.], reforestation works will be carried out once the [mining] activities are concluded,” added.

The AKP spokesperson also stressed that necessary permissions to carry out such activities were granted in 2001, before the ruling party came to power.

Çelik also underlined that “it is out of question” that the company is searching for gold with cyanide. Many experts support this, he said.

Measures will be taken for cyanide: Alamos CEO

Cyanide will be used during extraction, and necessary precautions are being taken to prevent any leakage, John McCluskey, the chief executive of Alamos Gold, told Reuters on Aug. 6.

“Not only do we make that impossible, if we didn’t make that impossible we shouldn’t even start because by the time you’ve added the cyanide to the process it’s because there is gold there. And if you lose the cyanide, you lose the gold,” he said.

“We have one impervious membrane and underneath that is another impervious membrane. In between the two layers, we have a leak detection system,” he added.

Regarding the cutting down of trees that stirred outrage nationwide, McClusky said reforestation will be done by the company whose money has already been paid.

“We’ve already paid for it. What you have to appreciate is that as part of the forestry permit, we have paid about $5 million for those permits. A big component of that fee is to pay for reforestation,” he said.

“In six-and-a-half years, the whole focus of this area will be to replant. And in a decade, maybe a bit more than that, it will look like a forest again,” he added.

Hurriyet Daily News

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