Turkey's lush Mount Ida going bald due to gold mine project

Turkey’s historic Mount Ida, lauded by Homer for its divinity, is going bald due to a gold-mining project that has already seen 200,000 trees felled in Turkey’s northwestern province of Çanakkale, the Global Voices website said. 

A gold and silver mine project by Canada-based intermediate gold producer Alamos Gold is going full speed ahead despite numerous demands by Çanakkale municipality to stop the process from further endangering the environment and people's livelihoods.

The company plans to use some 20,000 tonnes of cyanide, a deadly chemical that can harm flora and fauna and pollute a dam that is the main source of water for the region.

Scores of activists, politicians, representatives of non-governmental organisations have taken to social media platforms to express their concern using the hashtags #KazdağınaDokunma [Don’t touch the Kaz Mountains] and #KazDağlarıHepimizin [The Kaz Mountains belong to all of us], the article said. 

Protesters have set up a 24-hour camp at the mine construction site. 

Alamos CEO John McCluskey has dismissed criticism and says the area will return to its previous state after the six years.

“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,” McCluskey said.

He said it was the Turkish government that had felled the trees, not Alamos.  

Turkish authorities have so far resisted looking into the claims made by locals and environmentalists, the article said.

The country’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) ally have voted down a motion to investigate the construction of the mine introduced by 26 deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Meanwhile, a leading organisations that focuses on the protection of natural habitat, TEMA (Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion for Reforestation and the Protection of Natural Habitats), released a video with two trending hashtags: #altindaolumvar (there is death in gold) and #KazDaglariHepimizin (Kaz mountains belong to all of us).

It has also launched a petition to stop the mining operations, which has gathered more than 500,000 signatures.

Leading Turkish artists, such as musician Zülfü Livaneli and pianist Fazıl Say have joined the protest, with the former penning an open letter to UNESCO and the latter giving a concert in late August at the site of the gold mine project. 

The destruction in the region, however, does not appear to remain limited to the Alamos Gold project, Global Voices said. There are more mining contracts being signed and once they have become operational, more destruction will follow in the region, the article quoted the mayor of Çanakkale, Ülgür Gökhan, as saying.