Turkish villagers determined to keep gold mining, cyanide out

Residents of a northwestern Turkish district on Monday protested a mining company for its alleged practices of leaching gold out of rock with cyanide.

Environmentalists and locals gathered in the Şahinli village of Lapseki district in front of the village teahouse, where the Environment and Forest Ministry was to hold a meeting to inform people about the gold mining process.

Davut Şahin, head of the village in Çanakkale province, said they would not allow gold mining in their village. The ministry meeting in the teahouse was canceled due to the protest, agencies reported.

The locals held banners reading, “We do not want any gold prospecting in Şahinli,” while some hit tin cans with sticks during the protest.

News reportedly spread among locals that a Canadian firm planned to mine the area using gold cyanidation, a method that dissolves gold in a cyanide solution in order to extract the precious metal from low-grade ore. Residents took to the streets in protest.

Ministry meeting canceled

Environment and Forest Ministry officials allegedly filed a report on the incidents and cancelled the meeting, leaving the village after the protests.

Gendarmerie took extra measures in the streets, and riot police were stationed against the locals.

The group said in their slogans, “We want to live humanely,” “We do not want mines” “Our gold is the forest, fruit trees and our animals” and “We do not want cyanide.” After the group attempted to enter the teahouse where the meeting was to be held, the gendarmerie prevented them.

Tension between security forces and locals occurred as the group continued their protest. However, the locals ended their protests after a while, reports said.

Map reveals danger

A map recently released by the Geography Department of Çanakkale University found that more than a third of the area spanning the Kaz Mountains near Çanakkale may be negatively impacted by gold prospecting.

According to detailed data gathered by Geography Department head Professor Telat Koç, 34 percent of the land – more than 8,000 square kilometers – in the northwestern mountains is open to gold prospecting. An additional five kilometers around each prospecting area may also be affected by the process.

Mining companies searching for gold in Çanakkale’s Kaz Mountains will bring environmental damage to the area, Çanakkale Mayor Ülgür Gökhan said previously, daily Radikal reported.

“Unfortunately, nature is devastated by the efforts of gold mining firms, which hide damaging details from the public,” Gökhan said.


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