Request for Solidarity and Support: Highest Turkish Court Closes Canadian Eldorado
On July 9, 2007, the Turkish State Council granted an injunction closing the Kisladag mine near the city of Usak in Turkey. The injunction will be in place until a decision is reached on the legality of the mine's Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS).
In granting the injunction, the court found that continuing operation of the open pit heap-leach mine, which has been in operation for over a year, would cause "irreparable harm".
The mine is owned by Tuprag, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eldorado Gold Corporation, a Canadian company.
The mining company has received an undisclosed amount from the Canadian International Development Agency for development of community projects.
The Tuprag-Eldorado mine started production in Usak-Esme in May 2006, despite vociferous opposition from local villagers and Turkish environmentalists. Geological engineers, environmental engineers and public health specialists found blatant errors and omissions in the EIS. Villagers from the region challenged the mine's environmental permits in court, saying the EIS has serious omissions and blatant errors.
One of the most important issues in the case is the probability of depletion and contamination of the ground water in this semi-arid area. Villagers are also concerned about the mine's tailings, which - at the end of the mine's 14 year life - will leave over 132 million tonnes of cyanide-contaminated waste, and acid-generating slimes, that will have to be monitored in perpetuity.
On June 27, 2006, more than 1000 villagers in the region turned up at hospital emergency wards, with symptoms that raised fears of cyanide poisoning. Their fears were confirmed by Dr. Oya Otyidiz, who undertook blood testing immediately after the incident.
Eldorado denied there was any cyanide poisoning, and said the wide-spread illness was a result of sewage contamination of the drinking water.
The Kisladag mine will be a huge heap-leach gold mine covering 15,717 hectares. The company states on its web site that the project contains 5.1 million ounces of gold in proven and probable reserves.
This is the second State Council decision in Turkey against gold mining with sodium cyanide. In 1997, the Ovacik gold mine in Bergama, the first to be established in the country, was ruled unconstitutional. The Turkish government then violated that ruling by issuing a special permit to Newmont, then owner of the mine. In April 2002, the Turkish high court over-ruled the government permit. The Ovacik Mine EIS was cancelled and the mine was ordered to close.
Some 315 people, from Bergama and nearby villagers, filed a lawsuit against the Turkish government at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) . In November 2004, the Court held unanimously that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect to private and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as a violation of Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the Convention, and ordered the government to pay 945,000 euros as compensation to the villagers.
Usak-Esme residents are fearful that the Turkish government will again try to issue a special permit to enable the mine to operate. They are asking that letters endorsing the court decision and asking for the permanent closure of the mine be sent to:
Mr. Paul N. Wright, President and CEO
Eldorado Gold Corporation
1188-550 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 2B5
The Honourable Peter MacKay
Minister of Foreign Affairs
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
The Honourable Josee Verner
Minister for International Cooperation
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
His Excellency Aydemir Erman
197 Wurtemburg St.
For further information, contact: Usten Bilgen-Reinart, telephone: 011 90 312 210 6834; mobile: 011 90 536 471 5950