Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday that a disputed gold mining project in northeastern Turkey is to be shelved pending a court decision.
The announcement follows days of protests at Cerattepe, a forested, mountainous area in Artvin province, against a mining project led by Eti Bakir Incorporation.
Davutoglu said activity at the site would be suspended until a court rules on a lawsuit filed by the Green Artvin Association.
“First, the mine in Cerattepe will halt its activities until the lawsuit is concluded” the prime minister said at an opening ceremony in Konya province following a meeting with the association members in Ankara.
“All will respect the court decision as state law requires” he said.
Davutoglu also said demonstrators would refrain from further “illegal protests in order to prevent certain abuses”.
Locals have protested against the mine since June over fears the operation will spoil the area’s natural beauty but recently the protests have escalated.
“We are determined to protect our underground and aboveground treasures and serve our people” Davutoglu said.
“The metal that will be extracted from the closed pit will not be subjected to in-situ processing but will be transferred and processed in another district called Murgul, so as not to harm the treasures of Cerattepe” he emphasized.
According to Eti Bakir Inc., 3,500 trees will be cut down to accommodate the project.
Davutoglu said that extracted material would be taken from the site by cable car rather than by road to reduce the need to cut trees.
Minister of Environment and Urban Planning, Fatma Güldemet Sarı, also earlier said that all measures had been taken to prevent harm to the natural environment considering the environmental impact assessment reports and the copper extracted from the mine would be transported by cable cars, and thus would not necessitate new roads to be built in the area.
Sari also met Artvin politicians and representatives of the Green Artvin Association along with Natural Resources Minister Berat Albayrak and Agriculture Minister Faruk Celik following the two-hour meeting with Davutoglu.
Meanwhile, Artvin Municipality announced the news saying that the project of the mining company was suspended after the meeting between the prime minister and the members of the Green Artvin Association in Ankara.