“Don’t come if you like gold”: Turks march against planned gold mine
“Don’t come if you like gold”: Turks march against planned gold mine by Birsen Altayli from ISE.uk.co
* Project by Canada-based Alamos targeted in Turkey
* Concerns over deforestation; water, soil pollution
* 2013 Gezi Park protests loom over peaceful gathering
By Birsen Altayli
KIRAZLI, Turkey, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Thousands of Turks including opposition lawmakers staged a peaceful and unusually large protest on the outskirts of a small western town on Monday against what they say will be pollution from a foreign-owned gold mine project.
Public opposition to the site owned by Dogu Biga Mining, the Turkish subsidiary of Canada-based Alamos Gold Inc, mounted after the firm allegedly cut down four times the number of trees than it declared in an environmental impact report.
Near the town of Kirazli in Turkey’s Canakkale province, a few dozen environmentalists have slept in tents since July 26 as part of what they call a “Watch for Water and Conscience”.
Activists say cyanide will be used to extract gold in the Alamos project and will contaminate the soil and waters of a nearby dam. The Turkish government rejects charges that the mine will damage the environment and denies cyanide will be used.
Turkish environmentalists were part of protests in 2013 over a project to demolish Istanbul’s Gezi Park, which grew into nationwide anti-government unrest that prompted a violent security crackdown and hundreds of arrests.
On Monday, some 5,000 protesters from across the country gathered on a hill near the planned mine site carrying signs reading: “Don’t come if you like gold,” and “We can do without gold, we can’t do without the Kaz Mountains.”
From there they walked to the project site where security forces were limited to a few dozen gendarmerie, and they were allowed entry to a field on the property.
The mine will harm the ecological balance of a wooded region near Mount Ida – or Kaz, as it locally known – which produces huge amounts of oxygen and is home to diverse flora, said Rebiye Unuvar, deputy mayor of Canakkale.