Artvin Cerattepe and Genya Mine, Turkey

Residents of Artvin, a small town in the North-eastern Black Sea region in Turkey continue to resist the opening of a dangerous gold and copper mine in the Cerattepe area since more than 20 years. After years of resistance, the conflict is still ongoing

Residents of Artvin, a small town in the North-eastern Black Sea region in Turkey continue to resist the opening of a dangerous gold and copper mine in the Cerattepe area for more than 20 years. After years of resistance, several mining companies, and several court rulings against the project, the conflict is still on-going. The first attempts to mine the gold and copper in the area started in the beginning of 1980s. After several years of explorations, the first mining license was given in 1987. In the early 1990s, the license was transferred to the international mining company Cominco, who started further explorations and test drillings. Even after the test drillings, the negative effects were observed immediately when livestock died suddenly. At that point, residents (who were thinking of the mine as a new income and employment source) started to reconsider the mine in the area as a threat. Since 1995, a resistance movement started to be organised under the newly founded Green Artvin Association. In 1998, a petition with more than 10.000 signatures was delivered to the ministry of environment, which in turn halted the project for re-investigation. Unable to start mining due to local opposition, Cominco left the mine in 2004 and transferred the license to INMET Mining, who tried to re-start the project. However, the Green Artvin Association and lawyers from Artvin Bar took the project to the court, which ended in 2009 with a cancellation of the previous mining license. However, in 2012, a new mining license was issued by the government and Cengiz Holding (under the roof of Ozaltin Insaat) who filed a EIA request and get a positive report soon after. In January 2015, Rize Administrative Court overruled the project’s positive EIA report. However, with an outstanding rush and within very short time, the mining company has received another positive EIA report despite the court ruling, giving right to a renewed permit to mine in the area, with supposedly newer technologies. Another complaint prepared by 61 lawyers has been filed in July 2015, with the signature of 751 people, making it the most extensive environmental court case in Turkey’s history . The case is still ongoing and the examination of panel of experts has been awaited in these days. Since July 2015, people of Artvin have reacted to the advances by the company, and started to keep a continuous watch by barricading the road leading to the planned area. The protests has received nationwide supports from several local and national NGOs The mining project threatens one of the most important nature conservation sites in Turkey, from where all of Artvin’s drinking water comes from. Just next the mine site, there is Hatila National Park, and Kafkasör Tourism Conservation and Development area under it. The area hosts 2,000 plant forms, 124 endemic forms, hundreds of animal forms.
Basic Data
NameArtvin Cerattepe and Genya Mine, Turkey
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Water access rights and entitlements
Specific CommoditiesSilver
Project Details and Actors
Project Details
In the previous plans, the project had the aim to mine the gold, silver, zinc and copper, with an open pit method. However, after the cancellation of the EIA due to the adverse effects of gold mining and leaching, the project is renewed by the company.
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Project Area (in hectares)4,406
Level of Investment (in USD)25,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population35000 to 170000
Start Date1995
Company Names or State EnterprisesÖzaltın Holding from Turkey
Cengiz Holding from Turkey - Cengiz Holding rents the mine from Ozaltin İnsaat.
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment and Urbanization

Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs

Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersTEMA Foundation

Green Artvin Association

Artvin local CSO's

Artvin Bar Association

Karadeniz İsyandadır Platform

Brotherhood of the Rivers Platform
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherLoss of income
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The local residents have managed to prevent any attempts to open the mine since more than 20 years, in that sense it is a success. However, the plans for mining projects are still on going. The court case is still going on, as well.
Sources and Materials

Mining Law
[click to view]

Forestry Law
[click to view]

Convention on Biological Diversity
[click to view]

European Landscape Convention
[click to view]

Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats
[click to view]

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
[click to view]


Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects' Cerattepe Report
[click to view]

Effects of Mining Activities in Artvin Cerattepe and Genya on Natural Resources
[click to view]


Artvin Çoruh University Faculty of Forestry's Report
[click to view]

Media Links

Green Artvin Association's petition
[click to view]

Other Documents

Barricade People of Artvin, holding the ground against the mining company
[click to view]

Police attack Police forces attacked the protesters with tear gas on 16th February
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorCem İskender Aydın, TEMA Foundation,
Last update18/02/2016