Turkish mining venture sparks concerns over local ecosystem and livelihoods

Turkish mining venture sparks concerns over local ecosystem and livelihoods
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Koza Gold found significant ore reserves and awarded a construction contract in Turkey’s Agri province, but critics worry about damage to renewable resources and agriculture

A Turkish mining company is gearing up to inaugurate a mining site in the Agri province of Turkey, raising apprehensions about the potential environmental repercussions and its far-reaching effects on the local community's way of life, Arti Gercek’s Senol Bali reported on Tuesday.

Koza Gold, the company at the heart of this venture, has long been in the process of unfolding this project. With the acquisition of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report in 2022, the wheels were set in motion. Rigorous drilling campaigns and meticulous core analyses eventually unveiled a staggering cache of untapped ore reserves, totaling approximately 14.09 million tons.

In a recent development, Koza has revealed the chosen contender for executing the construction process. Through a competitive bidding process, Fernas clinched the contract, carrying a weighty price tag of 4,990,012,400 Turkish Liras for construction activities, alongside an auxiliary allocation of 40,710,000.00 US Dollars earmarked for machinery and equipment procurement.

As the countdown to the commencement of operations ticks away, so too have concerns mounted. Situated within the Diyadin District, an area characterized by its socioeconomic challenges and population migration, the project's significance is amplified. Moreover, the region is a treasure trove of renewable energy resources, home to more than thirty geothermal greenhouses that play a pivotal role in heating local residences. In a curious proximity, the proposed mining site finds itself adjacent to these invaluable geothermal assets.

Mehmet Nuri Tasdemir, a key member of the Eastern Anatolia Environmental Platform (Dogu-Cep,) has been unreserved in his critique of the potential trade-offs, denouncing the apparent sacrifice of subterranean and terrestrial riches for the pursuit of corporate gain. Tasdemir underscores the district's intricate reliance on geothermal reservoirs and greenhouses, both integral to the tapestry of its agricultural and livestock endeavors.

Tasdemir's disquiet extends to the potential collateral damage, warning of irrevocable harm to vital sectors. He argues for a reprioritization of support for the region's existing strengths, directing attention towards renewable energy sources and agricultural initiatives.

Echoing the sentiment is Menekse Kizildere, co-spokesperson of the Ecology Commission of the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). She contextualizes the predicament within the broader backdrop, highlighting the precarious implications for the Murat River, a life-giving artery coursing through the province. Kızıldere emphasizes the imperative of nurturing the region's agricultural and livestock traditions in the face of escalating climatic uncertainties and the global challenges of food supply.