Canadian miner Alamos Gold target of environmental protests
Late August saw a flurry of solidarity actions in Montreal and Toronto, organized in opposition to Canadian mining corporation Alamos Gold. The progressive Turkish-Canadian community has led the movement with mining justice organizations, environmental activists and the Communist Party of Canada participating in actions against Alamos Gold’s “ecocide at Mount Ida.”
The Toronto-based gold mining company has started working on a massive open pit mining operation together with its local subsidiary Doğu Biga Madencilik, in Turkey’s Ida Mountains. The company has cut 200,000 trees during the mine construction stage, many more than they originally said would be necessary.
A large-scale fightback has developed in Turkey against Alamos. Thousands of protesters have occupied the area and stopped mine construction activities on the site, under the banner of a Water and Human Conscience Watch.
In addition to opposing deforestation, the resistance to Alamos also points out that an estimated 20,000 tonnes of cyanide will be used in the gold-extraction process. Alamos Gold has a history of cyanide leaks and the company was responsible for a 2016 spill in Mexico.
Organizers for Canada Mount Ida Solidarity – Toronto stated in a press release that the fight is much broader than just Alamos Gold: “The situation in Turkey’s Ida Mountains is not an isolated case. Similar lethal projects are underway in Turkey’s other regions including Zonguldak, Samsun, Mount Munzur, and many others as well as all around the world. Also, Alamos Gold Inc. is not the only Canadian company that plunders natural resources in Turkey and other countries for better profits at the expense of environmental destruction.”
A 2013 report indicated that Canada is home to 75% of the mining companies in the world. In no small part, this is due to Canada’s lack of regulation of the mining sector, which allows mining corporations to get away with crimes around the world. The Canadian government’s complicity in the mining sector’s crimes have been uncovered in many countries. This includes the 2013 revelations that Canada spied on Brazil’s Ministry of Mining and Energy. Canada has also used Canadian aid to pressure governments to rewrite mining laws in South America and Africa.
In addition to environmental destruction in the era of climate change, Canadian mining has also been responsible for human rights violations and the exploitation of labour around the world. The anti-labour element was also highlighted by the rallies in Canada. The organizers pointed to racist statements made by Alamos Gold’s CEO, John McCluskey, who said that Alamos won’t need any foreign labor to operate their activities in Turkey because “Turkish people are the best in carrying stones in the world!”
Organizers in Toronto responded, “We would like to remind Alamos Gold, similar opportunistic corporations, and their political subsidiaries that Yes! We may be good at carrying stones. But we are equally good at standing against you until the day you will have to stop this plundering and get out!”