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16 Oct 2016

Defne Gonenc, openDemocracy

Turkey: Twenty-year opposition to Cerattepe mine exposes deficiencies in the legal system

Turkey’s largest environmental legal case, 8 October 2016

Currently, the Artvin-Cerattepe mine case [is] the biggest environmental legal case in Turkey, […] where the lives and livelihoods of many are being put in danger by copper and gold mine prospecting in the region. During the final hearing of the case on September 19, the litigant lawyers demanded recusal and abandoned the courtroom amid extensive security precautions…

The movement against the controversial mine construction has been going on for more than twenty years now. Despite several court decisions ordering the abandonment of the mine project based on the right to a healthy, balanced environment, the company was able to obtain new environmental impact assessment reports (EIA) and reclaim the project…

Initial objections were raised against Cominco [a Canadian company] during its exploration of the site in 1994. The company drilled around 560 wells in the region, and during this process, local water was contaminated by heavy metals and hazardous chemicals… Subsequently, in 1995, the Green Artvin Association was established….The biggest achievement for the movement came in 2009 when the Council of State nullified the [exploration] licenses. Nevertheless, in 2011, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources modified the mining law again. The new law enabled the Ministry to grant a new operation license to the Cerattepe mine, along with 1,342 other mining sites in Turkey.