Turkey expedites gold mining

Turkey, which started gold mining with 1,4 tonnes of production in 2001, has accelerated its efforts in this direction. Both the President of the Republic Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Fatih Dönmez announced that Turkey broke the historical record of the Republic in 2020 with 42 tonnes of gold and they would like to achieve the goal of annual gold production of 100 tonnes. In order to achieve this goal, intensive effort is under way to commission new mines. Kirazli Gold and Silver Mine Project in Çanakkale stands out as one of the closest projects to the operation phase. With the commissioning of the project at the construction stage, an important step will be taken to achieve the production goals.

Gold production in Turkey broke the historical record of the Republic in 2020 with 42 tonnes of gold. Although Gold Exploration and Exploitation Administration was established by Atatürk in 1933, the first production started in 2001 and 382 tonnes of gold have been produced over 20 years. A revenue equivalent of 76 tonnes of gold was obtained from this production. The President of the Republic Erdoğan, who made an announcement in the past January, stated that “Our gold production reached to the highest level in the history of the Republic, with 42 tonnes. Its revenue is 2.4 billion dollars. Our goal is to increase the production of gold, which is the which is the first of the products with the highest added value, to 100 tonnes in the next 5 years.”

The statements of the President of the Republic Erdoğan reveal that Turkey will expedite its efforts in gold mining. In Turkey, where there are 18 gold mines still in operation, in ortder to reach an annual goal of 100 tonnes, it is stated that new projects must be commissioned with haste. Turkey, which has a significant resource of gold reserves, Kirazli Gold and Silver Mine Project in Çanakkale is among the projects that can be commissioned within a short time. Located at the Balaban hill affiliated with the central province of Çanakkale, at the Biga Mountains, Kirazlı gold and silver mine project belongs to Doğu Biga Mining. The company has 3 project sites, all of which are located at the Çanakkale area. The company aims to achieve approximately 100 tonnes of gold production in all its projects. This corresponds to an economic value worth nearly 48.2 billion TL. Doğu Biga Mining, a Turkish company with foreign capital, will utilize the gold it produces domestically. According to the legislation, the right to purchase the first gold produced belongs to the Central Bank of Turkey. Central Bank of Turkey will be able to purchase the gold produced, using TL equivalent of its worth.

The company estimates to have operating and investment expenses worth 3.45 billion dollars in its projects. The amount of tax payable to the Republic of Turkey through these projects is estimated to be 1.725 billion dollars. Apart from all these numbers, it is estimated that the company will employ 1000 people directly, and 2000 people will be employed in the projects through service procurements. Alongside project feasibility studies, the company also performs Environmental Impact assessment and conducts a meticulous study with nearly 100 scientists from various universities. Species that can be defined as endemic to the region have been determined. The seeds of seed plants have been collected and sent to gene bank to be used in land-cover projects, whereas bulbous plants were transferred to the appropriate areas outside the project site and protected.

Kirazlı Gold and Silver Mine project, the first project of Doğu Biga Mining, has reached to the construction stage. Waiting for its license to be extended, the project will be able to operate once the extension is obtained. After the construction stage, which is expected to last approximately 1 year, production will begin and contribute to the production goal of 100 tonnes.

Doğu Biga Mining, whose project is not yet operational, already made a name for itself with its significant contributions to the region. In these days when drought is a threat, Altınzeybek-2 pond with a water holding capacity of 3.17 million cubic meters, which will supply drinking and utility water to 11 villages, was built by the company. The pond, which was built under the control of State Hydraulic Works and was among the important projects carried out with the cooperation of the Government-Private Sector, played an important part in the revitalization of agriculture during the dry summer season, by making all the water captured in 2020 available to Kumarlar village. When the project is operational, the company will use only 8 percent of water from the Altınzeybek-2 pond. 92 percent of water in the pond will continue to be available to 11 villages. After the completion of the life cycle of the project, which is planned to be about 6 years, the entire pond will be left to the region as a water heritage that can be used for many years. Moreover, the company renewed its energy transmission lines from the central province of Çanakkale to the project site. The energy transmission line, the cost of which was covered by the company, was made available to many villages and private enterprises located en route. A road in the vicinity of the project, which facilitated the connection of villages with the district and city center, was built by the company and opened for use. Doğu Biga Mining, which plans to have 80 percent of the workforce in its projects as local employment, has also obtained the qualified workforce to work in the project locally, by organizing certified vocational training courses. Many trainees who attended the trainings had the opportunity to improve themselves by having a vocational training certificate that is valid nationwide. The company has contributed to education by distributing over 600 student scholarships so far. For the online education programme established during the pandemic, the company distributed internet connection as well as tablet computers to 60 students so that the students living in villages do not miss their education. Apart from all these, the company maintained good relations with the region by making numerous investments in terms of health, infrastructure, culture and transportation in 9 villages in the vicinity of the project site. The company, which donated an intensive care unit to be used in the pandemic ward of Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University Health, Application and Research Hospital during the pandemic, also received a certificate of appreciation from the university administration. Doğu Biga Mining continues its efforts to establish a 9-bed full-fledged intensive care service in Çanakkale Mehmet Akif Ersoy State Hospital.

The good relations that the company established with the region were manifested in the anti-project demonstrations organized by activists from outside the province in 2019. After the demonstrations halted the progress of the project, the inhabitants of the villages signed an action supporting the company. Dozens of people gathered in front of Çanakkale Municipality, which they considered as the organizer of anti-project demonstrations, protesting for the continuation of the mine project. After this support, which was widely covered by the local and national media, Çanakkale Municipality stopped all aid to the demonstrators. The number of activists who camped near the project site has also decreased significantly after this date. Doğu Biga Mining continues to develop neighborly relations both in project villages and in Çanakkale.

Alamos Gold Inc, the investor of the Doğu Biga Mining company, has mines currently operating in Canada and Mexico, and also has projects under development in Turkey as well as United States, Canada and Mexico. The Mulatos and El Chanate mines, operated by Alamos Gold, have Clean Industry Certification since 2011, which is given after a comprehensive external audit in terms of the excellence of the mine’s environmental management, water consumption and management, air quality (emission), energy consumption, waste management, soil and vegetation management, fuel consumption and environmental risk management. The company’s operation in Mexico received the Empresa Socialmente Responsible (ESR) -KSS Award from the Mexican Philanthropy Center for 12 consecutive years and was awarded the 2019 Best Corporate Social Responsibility Practice Award by CEMEFI in 2019. Also, Alamos Gold received the 2015 social responsibility award for the vocational trainings it provided for employment in the El Chanate mine project. Mulatos mine has been ISO 9001: 2008 certified since 2010.

Standards and best practices are vital to the operations of Alamos Gold. Alamos Gold’s reports:
•Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards,
•Sustainable Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Metals and Mining Standard,
•The Church of England-Investor Mining and Tailings Safety Initiative,
• WGC’s Conflict-Free Gold Standard,
•WGC’s Responsible Gold Mining Principles,
•Canadian Government’s Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act (ESTMA).

Alamos Gold’s CEO, John McCluskey, says they care about maintaining their commitment to operational excellence, social responsibility and environmental management above all. Emphasizing that wherever they operate, they hold themselves responsible for the highest environmental, social and governance standards, they are committed to act responsibly and maintain core values such as safety, teamwork, environmental sustainability, commitment and integrity, McCluskey says that “As Alamos; we aspire to create a safe workplace for everyone who works for us to return safely at home every day, help our employees succeed in their careers through training and teamwork and by valuing equality and diversity in the workplace, maintain the long-term health and viability of the natural environments surrounding our operations and projects by helping the local residents and host governments establish communities which will have brighter futures beyond our existence and
establishing long-term and respectful relations with the members of the community, and continually decrease our environmental footprint. Our vision is to create and maintain common value for all stakeholders. This is what our employees, host communities and stakeholders expect from Alamos Gold.”

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