Recall the permits for Cyanide Gold Εxtraction that has been given
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Groups and activists have taken this initiative after we found out that Hellenic Copper Mines (HCM) will start Gold Extraction in Cyprus.
The process of extraction will happen in Fukasa mine, in Skouriotissa. According to the environmental study that HCM has given to the Department of Environment, firstly the company will use the ores from the waste that exist already in Fukasa mine. They have also applied for a permit to extract the gold that exist in the ores of Stroggylo mine in Mathiatis.
In the document below we present the reasons that we oppose the gold extraction, and if you agree support this struggle, sign this petition and join us in the initiative.
We are against Gold Extraction in Cyprus because:
Cyanide, which is one of the most dangerous poisons, will be used for the Gold Extraction. Cyanide was used in both World Wars as a chemical weapon.
In many countries of the world there have been accidents in mines, where cyanide has been leaked into ground and surface waters, causing enormous environmental disasters and even threatening human lives. Due to these accidents, the European Parliament has passed a ban on the use of cyanide in the mining industry as the only way to stop the problems that it creates.
From Fukasa mine, there is already leaking of acid water from the ores. This fact alone makes us very suspicious that what they write in the report about recycling the water waste 100%, will not be materialised and when the gold extraction will start there will be leaks of cyanide contaminated water.
We already have two cyanide-infected areas in Cyprus, in Mitsero and Xeros, in Lefka. In both areas, because the companies have not taken any measures to restore the area, they have caused huge pollution in the waters and on the ground. At Mitsero, HCM was active until 1982.
The company claims to use 100 tones of cyanide per year for the extraction of 240 kg of gold. However, according to studies, the amount of cyanide that will be needed may rise, since the concentration of gold in the ores is less than 1gr / tn (0.8gr / tn). For such concentration, it may take even 1 ton (1000 kg) of cyanide to extract one kilogram of gold.
The company wants to extract 240 kilos of gold per year. In order to extract as many kilos as they have set as a target, the company has applied to lease old mines like the one in Mathiatis. If they do reopen this mine, thousands of pine trees will be cut and ancient galleries, that are a proposed monument from UNESCO, will be destroyed.
The last time that Cyprus produced the amount of gold that the company claims to produce today was in 1942, when 13 mines were operating, from which enriched ores were collected. When 1980-82 the same company only exploited ores from Skouriotissa and Sia, with the same extracting methods, using cyanide, production was half of what they estimate today. In 2011, 55 permits were issued for gold extraction in Cyprus, while the Department of Geological Survey recorded 25 abandoned mines and decided to proceed with the restoration of mines, through leasing them to the private sector. Therefore, since the company has already taken the step of asking for the Mathiatis mine, it is possible that they will ask for other mines, and then other important sectors of the economy, together with our environment and our health can be destroyed.
Through gold extraction dangerous elements such as mercury, arsenic, lead, barium, etc. are released into the environment, in the waters, in the soil and in the air, which, in their free form, can be fatal.
Around the Skouriotissa mine, organic farming has been developed. With its operation so far, the mine has not affected these crops, but if its operation is extended and cyanide is used, which can be transferred to the crops with air, dust and groundwater, then a piece of the economy that is growing, has given a lot of jobs and has given new life to the villages, will be destroyed.
The dust that will be produced from the mining will be toxic and will burden homes, schools and crops, not just around the mines. The dry climate of Cyprus, especially during the summer months, favours the slow sedimentation of dust particles, increasing the likelihood of their transfer from winds. The dust can be transported several kilometres away and it is not difficult to reach Katydata village which is 1.5 km away or to Linou and Flasou villages which is about 3 km away or to Morphou which is 6 km away . Despite all the company's measurements, the fact that the company itself admits that there are no minimum safe prices of powdered dust in any legislation, how much dust will be produced worries us.
This will affect not only crops but also tourism. No tourist wants to take a vacation next to a mine.
Open-air mines increase the ambient temperature. Scientists have already found that in 2050 in Cyprus the temperature will increase in average by 4 degrees Celsius, while in the summer they expect an increase of 4-6 degrees Celsius because of global warming. This process will accelerate and may worsen as mining expands.
Mining, extraction and processing of gold is against any logic of sustainable development. Mining of one kilogram of gold requires up to 1000 kg of cyanide, 40,000 kWh of energy, 477,000 litres of water and emits 11,5 tonnes of carbon dioxide. In the particular extraction, the company does not mention how much energy they will use, either how much carbon dioxide they will produce. For the water they claim that they will use 1000 cubic meters of water which means 1 million litre of water for each kilo of gold that will be extracted! In the area of Skouriotissa there is a very big water problem, as it happens in all Cyprus. If it will be used 1 million litre of water for each kilo of gold is criminal.
Gold extraction and mining is not necessary now for the society. Out of 170,000 tons of gold in the world's mined stock, 50% is in jewellery, 19% is in private investment, 17% is in government stocks, and only 12% is used in the technology that benefits the whole of society!
Gold extraction and mining affects our environment and health, while it offers profits to a few companies. The European Parliament voted with a large majority in favour of banning the use of cyanide in the mining industry. Hungary, Slovakia have banned the use of cyanide in their countries.
Will we accept it? No!
For all of these reasons, we call for:
- the recall of gold extraction and mining permits that have been given
- the protection of forests and archaeological monuments
- the restoration of polluted areas
- incentives to be given for the development of other environmentally friendly sectors of the economy such as organic farming and Eco-tourism
- incentives to be given for the recycling of devices (mobile, computers, etc.) so that the already mined amount of gold that exist in them to be used again.
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