Women activists in the forefront of resistance against Strongylos mine, South Mathiatis, Cyprus

Mathiatis is a small village in the foothills of the Troodos mountain in Cyprus. The project to reopen the Strongylos gold mine has been successfully opposed by the local people and activists.


Mathiatis is a small village in the foothills of the Troodos mountain in Cyprus. In 2017, Hellenic Copper Mines revealed publicly its intention to reopen the Strongylos mine in the South Mathiatis in order to extract gold has been confronted by the local people and activists [1, 4, 6]. 

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Basic Data
NameWomen activists in the forefront of resistance against Strongylos mine, South Mathiatis, Cyprus
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Establishment of reserves/national parks
Mineral ore exploration
Specific CommoditiesGold
Project Details and Actors
Project Details"The research and mining activity in the area of the northern mine of Mathiatis began in November 1935 by an American company called Cyprus Mines Corporation (CMS) which was looking for gold deposits, as recorded in the documents and the rare photos kept in the Archives of the Mine Services.

During the years 1935 and 1944, small gold deposits were intensively exploited in the entire Troodos region by a range of mining companies. The deposits were always close to the surface and therefore consisted of oxidised parts of sulphurous deposits. The total production from all over Cyprus rose to 167,000 ounces, 26,000 of which were extracted from the mines of Mathiatis.

As a result of the gold being extracted by CMC, a small cavity was created on the surface, on top of the present bigger cavity. Various geological researches conducted by CMC below the gold deposit have detected a sulphurous deposit of 4,000,000 tonnes, which mainly consisted of copper-free pyrite. Due to the lack of financial potential as a result of the quality and quantity of the deposit, as well as because of the long distance from the enrichment premises (Xeros – Karavostasi), CMC was not interested in the deposit and sold the northern mine to Hellenic Copper Mines LTD which gained control of the Mining Lease in 1965.

The Hellenic Copper Mines exploited these deposits, produced and traded copper-free minerals and pyrites, which they exported from their premises in Vasiliko. HCM’s operations began from the small cavity that CMC had created during the extraction of gold and resulted in the large present cavity, which is actually a circular crater with a diameter of 350 metres and a depth of 85 metres. In total, HCM extracted approximately 2 million tonnes of minerals until 1990, when the Mining Lease expired." [5]

Hellenic Copper Mines first proposed to reopen the Strongylos mine in the South Mathiatis in order to extract gold, and following its rejection, it made another request to remove the mine waste from the area and restore the area, which has not created confidence by the local people and activists [1, 4].
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1000-10000
Start Date03/01/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesHellenic Copper Mines from Cyprus
Relevant government actorsAntiquities department, environment department
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersHistorical and Environmental Group of Mathiatis: https://www.facebook.com/historicalandenvironmentalgroupmathiatis/?ref=br_rs

Community Council of Mathiatis: http://www.mathiatis.com/en/what-to-know-ten/mines-ten/mine-stroggylos-ten
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 MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
The MPs of Greens in Cyprus
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Educational activities to increase the knowledge on cultural, historical and ecological heritage of the area; participation in debates at the parliament
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
OtherArchealogical impacts
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesThe initiatives of local people and activists propose to engage with eco- and agrotourism activities and to establish a model archaeological and environmental park with international recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site [3, 4, 5].
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The residents of Mathiatis and activists succeeded in stopping the project and also were able to mobilise and show their reaction to the second proposal of mining company to remove the mining waste and restore the area, which has been perceived suspicious by local people. Additionally, they propose alternatives for the future of the area which would ensure the protection of its natural, cultural, and historical heritage and would serve public interest rather than private interests.
Sources and Materials

Facebook page of Historical and Environmental Group Mathiatis [2]
[click to view]

8 Female Activists in Cyprus Standing up for Environmental Justice (Medium, 27.08.2018) [1]
[click to view]

Mathiatis groups slam mining company's 'trojan horse' plans to extract gold (Cyprus News, 04.08.2018) [4]
[click to view]

The webpage of Community Council of Mathiatis [5]
[click to view]

Copper producer plans to extract gold from ore reserves (Cyprus News, 06.01.2017) [7]
[click to view]

New life for ancient Mathiatis mine (Cyprus News, 21.04.2017) [6]
[click to view]

Antiquities department pressured to change stance on Mathiatis gold mining (Cyprus News, 09.03.2018) [7]
[click to view]

Media Links

European Heritage Days 2017, Mathiatis and Agia Varvara, Cyprus [3]
[click to view]

Other Documents

Mathiatis gold mine - 5 Pictures taken by the Historical and Environmental Protection group of Mathiatis [2]
[click to view]

Mathiatis gold mine - 1 Mathiatis gold mine [2]
[click to view]

Mathiatis gold mine - 2 Mathiatis gold mine - 2 (Pictures taken by the Historical and Environmental Protection group of Mathiatis) [2]
[click to view]

Mathiatis gold mine - 3 Villagers and activists cleaning the area of Mathiatis gold mine (pictures taken by the Historical and Environmental Protection group of Mathiatis) [2]
[click to view]

Mathiatis gold mine - 4 The cleaning of the mine site by the Historical and Environmental Protection group of Mathiatis [2]
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorIrmak Ertör, ENVJUSTICE, ICTA-UAB
Last update04/09/2018