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Mathiatis groups slam mining company’s ‘trojan horse’ plan to extract gold

Mathiatis mine

Citizen initiative groups in the Strongylos-Mathiatis region have expressed their opposition to Hellenic Copper Mines’ new request for the removal of mine waste from the area and its restoration, calling it “a trojan horse” for the extraction of remaining gold reserves, which they also oppose.

Hellenic Copper Mines has recently submitted a proposal for the removal of mine waste and restoration of Strongylos mine in south Mathiatis, following the rejection of their previous proposal, which also contained plans for the extraction of remaining gold reserves.

The rejection of the original plan was made on the basis of the antiquities department’s position regarding the possible existence of ancient artefacts within the mine.

The group for the protection of the historic and environmental wealth of Mathiatis as well as the group of residents affected by the reopening of the south Mathiatis mine have called attention to the negative environmental, archaeological and cultural impacts of the mining company’s proposal.

The Strongylos mine, which is on the tentative list of Unesco World Heritage Monuments as part of the Troodos Mountain ophiolite – a 90-million-year-old fragment of well-preserved oceanic crust and an excellent example of volcanogenic massive sulphide deposit – is about 2km south of Mathiatis community and is a gold mine dating back to 600BC.

The groups said that the proposal to move the three stacks of waste and to restore the area with a play area, a park, parking, kiosks, benches and pathways, “involves disrupting the area, altering the geomorphology, cutting tens of pine trees, significant deterioration of the flora and disturbance of the fauna of the region.”

The groups referred to the proposed plan as “the trojan horse for the degradation, alteration and destruction of the southern mine’s important and unique natural and cultural landscape, all with the aim of further exploiting the remaining gold reserves in the wider region.”

The two groups suggest that it would be in the public interest to create “a model archaeological and environmental park with international recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site”.

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