VILLAGERS have responded negatively to plans to extend a quarrying of quartz and quartzite at a public meeting held on the northern coast of Lake Bafa, one of the most popular lakes in Turkey.

Bafa Lake is one of the most famous attractions – alongside Didim’s Apollon Temple and Ephesus – where Didim-based tourists and expats head to during the summer months.

At the meeting in the Latmos mountains, environmentalists argued that the project could destroy thousands of years of history, and make the livelihoods of hundreds of fishermen and their families, and local people living in olive and livestock life, unbearable.

“People’s Participation Meeting” was held an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process for the quartz and quartzite capacity increase project planned to be made and operated by a mining company in the Yesilkoy neighborhood of Söke.

Bafa Lake

Attending the meeting were Adem Gürbüz, who works as a mining engineer in Bicakcilar Madencilik company; geological engineer who works in the Ministry of Environment and Urbanization, Seçil Kaplan Oğlakçı; environmental engineers working in Aydin Environment and Urbanism Provincial Directorate Orhan Yildiz and Himmet Bağ; Mustafa Şentürk, President of Didim Cultural Heritage Protection Association; President of Kuşadası Ecosystem Conservation and Nature Worshipers Association (EKODOSD) Bahattin Driver; Yeşilköy Neighborhood President Ahdettin Topan and Serçin Neighborhood President Mustafa Çay,

Environmental engineer Abdurrahim Polat, who prepared the EIA report, sharing the details of the project and made a general presentation including technical details.

Polat, “The project is the”Feldispat, Quartz and Quartzite Capacity Increase “project planned by Bıçakçılar Madencilik company to be realized on the mine site within the boundaries of Yeşilköy Quarter of Söke.

“The decision on “no EIA” was taken in 2010 for the Fesdispat open-pit operation, which is planned for an area of 15.31 ha on a mine basis.

“Again in the same field for 2016 in the field of 358 ha ‘EIA positive decision’ is available,” he said.

Abdurrahim Polat said: “Production work will be carried out by means of open operation within the scope of the project. The geological location, topographical structure and economic adequacy of the method are taken into account in the selection of the method of operation.

“Considering the hardness of fesdispat, quartz and quartzite to be produced, drilling blasting method will be used. These quartz and quartzite produced in the quarry will be sold directly to the market. ”

The common view of the participants, who expressed their ideas at the meeting, was that the project would wipe thousands of years of history and traces of the history away and make local people’s live uninhabitable.

They stated that the mountains on the east coast of Lake Bafa, which they admire as they cross the Söke-Milas highway, are punctured by holes and villagers are in despair at the destruction of the wonderful natural landscape and history.

They said Bafa Lake and Latmos (Beşparmak) Mountains, one of the most rare historical and natural sites of Turkey, are under great threat,

Bahattin Sürardi, president of Kuşadası Ecosystem Conservation and Nature Clubs (EKODOSD), said that two mining licenses would be extended at the Yeşilköy Quarter and that a new mine would be opened in Karacahayit District.

“This is a very sensitive area in terms of ecology. It is an area where endemic plant species exist and many animal species endangered in the world are found. Especially Lake Azap and Lake Bafa are both a very important area in terms of both threatened animals, both plant species and aquatic products.”

Expressing that the region has a very important design in terms of ecotourism, he added: “These are very valuable cultural assets. There are rock paintings from 8000 years ago. So far, 176 images have been identified. Many institutions, non-governmental organizations and some parts of the state are working on these.

“Our whole purpose is to protect the history of the nature in this region and gain eco-tourism. In this way, both the social and economic development of people in this region, and to ensure the protection of these mountains, “he said.

Mustafa Şentürk, the president of the Association for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Didim, stated that he has lived in the region for about 30 years and said: “I have been shooting photos for 30 years in this region, especially in Menderes Delta and Latmos Mountains.

“After these shootings we opened exhibitions both at home and abroad. There are hidden churches underground and in the rocks in the areas planned to open the mine. Especially during the first period of Christianity, Saint Paul came to this region from Antakya and climbed into the mountain and gave a great religious struggle in the mountain.

“Also, when we look at the past of the Latmos Mountains there is a culture of 8 thousand years. There are the most important photographs of the World Cultural Heritage. I need to protect these photos, I need to protect Latmos. A new destination in tourism needs to be built in this region. Mining is not very important.”