PROCEEDING OF THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON

EUROPEAN ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

                  AND THE CASE OF CYPRUS MINES

Lefke Avrupa Üniversitesi/Şubat 2000

 

ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF THE COPPER MINING ACTIVITIES IN LEFKE-GEMIKONAGI REGION OF NORTHERN CYPRUS : A REVIEW

 

Aysel T. ATIMTAY and E. Volkan SARIÇİÇEK

 

Middle East Technical University, Environmental Engineering Department,

06531  Ankara, TURKEY

 

Abstract

 

This paper will review the previous studies carried out on the environmental problems that the copper mines have caused in Lefke-Gemikonağı region due to mismanagement of the resources. The pollution generated in surface waters, groundwater and also in the marine environment will be discussed, and the dimensions of the problems will be emphasized.

 

 

1. INTRODUCTION

 

Copper has always been a very important material for Cyprus and the history of this dates back to 5000 years from today. Even the name Cyprus is believed to come from the word “Cuprous”. Cyprus is within the Trodos-Magmatic complex which is rich in iron, pyrite and copper (calcopyrite). Copper mining in Cyprus, especially in Lefke region, has begun in 1913 and continued until 1974. The companies which have produced copper, together with some by products like CuSO4, H2SO4 and gold, in Cyprus have left the area in 1974 without taking any precautions or preventive actions against environmental pollution.

 

Sulfur mineralization at the region is the result of fluids loaded with heat (Hydrothermal) at the ocean bottoms. Apart from the raw ores in “Lefke” and “Karadağ” region, chemical wastes in Gemikonağı Harbour, heaps of scrap materials, wastes from gold production with cyanide, by-products of copper flotation process, pyrite waste ponds containing %25-30 sulfur cause not only soil, groundwater and sea pollution, but also air pollution by sulfur gases resulting from excess heating in summer time. Iron and sulfur with copper carried with surface waters might cause heavy metal pollution in potable and irrigation waters due to acid mine drainage.  According to many research reports, there are Arsenic, Barium, Cadmium, Chromium and Selenium in high amounts at the region. The region is an important shore ecosystem, too.

 

Basic environmental problems faced in the region can be summarized as follows:

  1. The situation of abandoned mine sites  (Karadağ and Gemikonağı region) and their environmental impacts
  2. Gemikonağı dam-lake and its pollution
  3. Agricultural pollution caused by Gemikonağı dam-lake
  4. The situation of abandoned CMC copper enrichment facilities and their environmental impacts

 

 

 

 

2. PREVIOUS RESEARCHES RELATED TO THE SUBJECT

 

There are several studies conducted in the last 10 years about the environmental problems created by these copper mines. Some of these studies are concentrated on:

 

  1. Copper mines left as they are and their effects on the environment
  2. Water pollution in some small dams in the mining region
  3. Environmental pollution in agricultural areas which is due to using the polluted water in irrigation of these areas
  4. Groundwater pollution due to leaching of mining wastes.

 

The important studies can be summarized as follows:

 

 

Table 1 . Results of the analysis of plant samples (Report by the State Lab.,1999)

 

Sampling Point

 

Sample

Amount for Analysis (gr)

 

Al

(mg/kg)

 

Cr

(mg/kg)

 

Cu

(mg/kg)

 

Fe

(mg/kg)

 

Mn

(mg/kg)

Plant samples taken from CMC Gemikonağı Mining Facility

Şifa otu 1

2.5770

195.03

15.50

63.72

 

39.43

Şifa otu 2

2.7391

185.28

16.53

75.32

 

38.92

Pire otu 1

2.3499

207.41

3.24

77.28

 

27.55

Pire otu 2

2.3497

213.01

10.42

58.60

 

32.14

Gabbar 1

3.3694

48.79

0.79

7.13

70.04

 

Gabbar 2

3.5786

43.59

0.65

7.37

60.58

28.11

Ayrelli 1

2.3219

44.02

1.02

3.34

 

8.66

Ayrelli 2

2.2342

43.13

0.86

3.90

 

9.38

Akasya 1

2.3048

115.80

1.25

11.34

96.93

43.65

Akasya 2

2.3749

89.39

1.20

11.26

96.68

43.24

Ayrık otu1

2.0807

149.71

2.11

6.07

164.51

63.44

Ayrık otu2

2.1228

204.02

3.26

46.17

164.83

42.91

Kuzu otu 1

2.0349

234.56

6.51

5.32

163.74

69.14

Kuzu otu 2

2.0045

391.47

2.87

9.14

226.29

69.99

Çatırez 1

2.0403

64.11

1.33

0.42

52.10

12.86

Çatırez 2

2.0178

63.14

2.25

17.55

180.74

17.44

 

Samples from  places that probaly clean

Şifaotu 1

2.3119

618.11

32.05

7.43

0.33

14.78

Şifaotu 2

2.3905

648.82

22.40

10.57

0.26

9.54

Pireotu 1

1.9515

67.38

1.04

3.99

176.33

7.35

Pireotu 2

2.4124

121.99

1.37

4.39

102.84

7.68

Gabbar 1

2.3339

82.95

0.89

5.49

82.99

11.48

Gabbar 2

2.7112

70.49

0.66

4.74

77.42

9.93

 


 

    Table 2 . Carcinogenic heavy metal concentrations in leaves and soil (Altınbaş, 1999)     

                         

 

Carcinogenic Heavy Metals in Leaves

 

Carcinogenic Heavy Metals in Soil

Sample point and Plant Type

Zn

(ppm)

Cr

(ppm)

Cd

(ppm)

Pb

(ppm)

Ni

(ppm)

 

Depth

    (cm)

Zn

(ppm)

Cr

(ppm)

Cd

(ppm)

Pb

(ppm)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0-10

217.5

11.3

1.17

16.3

Tangerine  Leaf

15.0

6.0

0.90

14.5

5.3

 

10-28

132.5

9.2

1.02

12.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0-14

92.5

11.5

0.93

45.0

Orange Leaf

10.0

26.0

0.95

16.0

4.9

 

14-40

92.5

20.3

1.12

23.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0-14

87.5

25.9

1.07

22.5

Bean Leaf

27.0

2.0

0.48

22.5

5.3

 

14-33

80.0

4.5

0.78

11.3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0-14

67.5

22.3

1.76

27.5

Cabbage Leaf

17.0

4.0

0.55

7.3

3.5

 

14-32

55.5

2.3

1.85

26.3

 

Measurements done by Prof Dr Ünal ALTINBAŞ in March 2nd, 1999 in the Department of Soil at Ege Univ., Agriculture Faculty.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is determined that chromium concentration in samples of “şifa out” and “pire out” from contaminated area is very high as compared to samples of şifa otu from a distant place. It is a well-known fact that accumulated heavy metals in plants may pass through humans either by eating them directly or consuming the meat and milk products of animals that eat the plants.

 

The first preliminary report on the Environmental Problems of the Lefke-Gemikonağı region has been prepared by Erdem and his co-workers (Erdem, 1999). This report has shed light on many problems of the region.

 

 

3. Main Environmental Problems in the Region

 

 

A. THE SITUATION OF ABANDONED MINE SITES (KARADAĞ AND GEMİKONAĞI       AREA) AND THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

 

Open pit and underground mining were performed at Karadağ mine site and underground mining at Maden creek mine site. Mining wastes generated were discharged to creek beds in the region. Generally, these waste are low-graded ores containing approximately% 0.4 copper and % 8 sulfur. The approximate amount is 2 million tones.

 

Water drainage takes place with rainwater from mining sites as well as  material and waste storage sites. Acidic conditions occur with the reaction of present concentrated minerals (pyrite, Clcopyrite, galena, etc.) with rainwater and oxygen in air. Then contaminated water is transported to water collecting basin with surface waters and then mixes with ground water directly. Acid mine drainage increases metallic ions in waters in the region. As a matter of fact, samples taken from Gemikonağı dam-lake, water wells and surface waters verify this result. Results of the State Laboratory analysis are given in Table 3. Al, Cu, Fe, and Mn concentrations are very high in samples from bottom weir of dam-lake according to the Turkish Water Pollution and Control Regulation (1988) and water quality is 3rd and 4th class according to same regulation.

 

 

Table 3. Results of the analysis on water samples taken from the Gemikonağı dam-lake (State Laboratory Report, 1999)

 

 

Al mg/L

As mg/L

Cr mg/L

Cu mg/L

Fe mg/L

Mn mg/L

 

 

17/0.2/1999

Lake-end point

181.3

Not present

Not present

59.8*

68.9

96.8

Lake-bottom weir

4227.0**

Not present

Not present

2017.0**

2654.0*

1394.0*

 

01/03/1999

Lake-end point

179.9

Not present

Not present

334.3**

41.8

196.0

Lake-bottom weir

6747.0**

Not present

Not present

3484.0**

3479.0*

1541.0*

 

01/04/1999

Lake-end point

35.4

nil

nil

19.4

21.7

<10

Lake-bottom weir

10340.0**

nil

nil

3713.0**

920.5

1268.0*

Long term use

 

İrrigation

 

5000

 

100

 

100

 

200

 

5000

 

 

200

 

Limits term

use

 

Irrigation

 

20000

 

2000

 

 

1000

 

5000

 

20000

 

10000

                     

 

*3rd Quality   (Turkish Water Pollution and Control Regulation, 1988)

 **4th Quality (Turkish Water Pollution and Control Regulation, 1988)

 

 

 

 

B. GEMİKONAĞI DAM-LAKE AND ITS POLLUTION

 

The construction of the Gemikonağı dam, which is on the basin of Maden creek and mine production site, was completed in 1994. The capacity of the dam is 4 million m3 and it is constructed for irrigational purposes. The irrigation field of the dam is designed as 130 hectar. There are mining wastes at the sides of the hills surrounding the dam-lake. There are also two water wells at the upstream of the dam-lake. These wells were used for drinking water supply in the past but later they were started to use as irrigational water supply because of the possibility of pollution due to the acid mine drainage.

 

Acid mine drainage at the region was clarified dramatically by GÖKÇEKUŞ (1995) in the  “2nd Water Convention” organized by ACTEAC in Feburary 23-24, 1995. At this period, totally 17 water samples were taken from creeks fed by Trodos Ophiolite Complex, from accumulated waters rich in mineral content, and from Gemikonağı dam-lake. The results of the analysis  are given in Table 4.

 

 


Table 4. Chemical Analysis Results of Water Samples (Gökçekuş, 1995)

Sample No

Location Name

PH

2E.1

ms/cm

Cl

ppm

SO4

ppm

CO3

ppm

HCO3

ppm

NO3

ppm

Na

ppm

Ca

ppm

Mg

ppm

K

ppm

Boron

ppm

Cu

ppm

Zn

ppm

Ni

ppm

Fe

ppm

1

01/12/94

Yeşilırmak creek

6.96

823

95

92

*

262

161

122

30

27

5.60

-

*

*

*

*

2

01/12/94

Drinking Water well

7.15

492

40

72

*

196

3

32

45

27

0.30

-

*

0.05

*

0.08

3

01/12/94

Maden creek

7.36

458

30

62

*

190

3

29

40

24

0.40

-

*

*

*

*

4

01/12/94

Lefke creek

7.90

497

30

70

*

202

10

29

40

32

0.90

-

0.04

*

*

0.01

5

01/12/94

Gemikonağı damlake

6.60

712

45

284

*

74

3

29

65

48

0.70

-

0.732

0.32

*

0.06

6

01/12/94

“          “

6.60

722

45

274

*

78

3

32

65

44

0.70

-

0.792

0.31

0.05

0.16

7

01/12/94

“          “

6.381

722

45

290

*

72

3

32

65

46

0.70

-

0.962

0.37

*

0.10

8

01/12/94

“          “

6.52

713

45

280

*

78

3

46

65

46

0.80

-

0.612

0.30

*

0.15

9

01/12/94

Bottom weir side

4.682

880

45

4242

*

10

3

32

70

66

0.70

-

3.432

1.021

0.02

2.041

10

01/12/94

Bottom weir canal

6.441

780

45

3201

*

66

2

34

80

43

1.10

-

0.752

0.34

*

0.18

11

01/12/94

Maden creek

2.422

3950

55

37002

*

*

151

8

200

830

0.30

-

50.902

6.602

0.232

408.02

12

01/12/94

Lefke creek canal end

7.60

500

30

62

*

208

171

27

30

39

0.90

-

0.071

0.03

*

0.03

13

01/12/94

Çamlık creek

8.08

765

50

80

*

404

262

41

37

78

1.50

-

*

0.05

*

*

14

01/12/94

Çakıl creek

8.18

865

60

55

*

328

151

45

57

45

1.10

-

*

0.04

*

*

15

01/12/94

Doğancı creek

7.85

660

35

230

*

134

131

32

60

45

0.08

-

*

0.02

*

*

16

01/12/94

End of Derivation Channel

8.20

700

45

70

*

348

171

39

37

63

1.20

-

*

*

*

*

17

01/12/94

Güzelyurt creek

7.87

425

25

55

*

154

131

20

45

18

1.10

-

*

*

*

*

1 3rd Quality according to the Turkish Water Pollution and Control Regulation, 1988.

2 4th Quality according to the Turkish Water Pollution and Control Regulation, 1988.


It is obvious from the results of the table that water with these characteristics cannot be used for neither drinking nor irrigational purposes.

 

In order to prevent the dam-lake reservoir from acid mine drainage, sides of the dam-lake are surrounded with drainage canals. This precaution prevented dam-lake from acidification and heavy metal pollution partly caused by rainwater. Drainage water from the sides of the dam-lake is discharged outside of the dam-lake reservoir without any control. This situation creates another problem for groundwater pollution.

 

 

C. AGRICULTURAL POLLUTION CAUSED BY GEMİKONAĞI DAM-LAKE.

 

It is understood from the results of analysis that heavy metals arising from mining wastes cause pollution in irrigation water after Gemikonağı dam-lake started to operate. If microelements are examined in the soil of irrigational basin of Gemikonağı dam-lake, It is seen that concentrations of copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and zinc (Zn) are above the critical values that plants need.

 

When the results of irrigation water analysis is examined, some values especially copper and manganese in some samples are above the irrigational water criteria according to the Turkish Water Pollution Control Regulation issued in1988. Especially the acidic pH of dam-lake water at the bottom weir causes an increase in mobility of heavy metals in soil and may give damage to plants. High concentrations of trace elements in soils of dam-lake basin and again the acidic pH of irrigation water and its high heavy metal content show that there is an agricultural pollution in the basin. Especially the accumulation of heavy metal in plants that humans eat enhances the possibility of hazard.

 

 

D. THE SITUATION OF ABANDONED CMC COPPER PROCESSING AND ENRICHMENT FACILITIES AND ITS ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS.

 

CMC copper processing and enrichment facilities occupy an area of 2500 decar from Gemikonağı harbor to Maden creek. Pollution sources present in the facility area can be classified as follows:

 

a- Gold mining wastes that probably contain cyanide at Gemikonağı Harbor area

 

b- The final wastes of copper floatation facilities  in the area of processing facilities at the entrance of Gemikonağı

 

These are the wastes remaining after enrichment of copper. It is known that, however, they are kept in ponds and they spread out in a wide area. They contain harmful metal salts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. CONCLUSION

 

Gemikonağı CMC wastes are firstly an international problem. This subject should be discussed according to international laws. According to the law, the companies are responsible from CRADLE to GRAVE for the environmental pollution that they have created. The pollution created in Cyprus endangers the East and Middle Mediterranean countries such as Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Greece, and Italy. Accumulation of heavy metals like arsenic and barium constitutes an important problem in East Mediterranean. The ECOBALANCE of the East Mediterranean is very important. Agriculture in this area is in danger.

 

Previous investigations have shown that, pollution in the area is much more severe than it is estimated. Another important subject here is long term effect of the heavy metals. Here environmental disaster is not only affecting the people living in the Lefke or Karadag Region, but also the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

Research results show that there is a heavy metal pollution such as arsenic, barium, and cadmium in the East Mediterranean region. For this reason, the problem should be addressed immediately.

 

 

5. REFERENCES

 

Report of the State Laboratory Directorate of the Turkish Republic of Nothern Cyprus, dated 17.05.1994.

 

Report of the General Directorate of Mine Exploration (MTA), Ankara, dated 19.03.1997.

 

Report of the Marmara University, Environmental Engineering Department, 26.03.1997.

 

Report of the State Laboratory Directorate of the Turkish Republic of Nothern Cyprus, dated 18.03.1999.

 

Report by the Sate Laboratories Directorate of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,  Halil Çağnan, Director of Radiation and Environment Analysis Branch, 28.10.1999.

 

Altınbaş, U., Report prepared in the Department of Soil, Ege Univ., Agriculture Faculty, 1999.

 

Doğan, F., Report on Environmental Problems Created by the Copper Mine Wastes in Lefke Region and the Effect on the Public Health, November 1999.

 

Erdem, U., Report on the Environmental Problems of the Lefke-Gemikonağı Region, 9.06.1999.

 

Gökçekuş, H. and  Gökçekuş, H., “Maden Yataklarında Meydana Gelen Yüzey-Yeraltı Suyu Kirliliği ile Bu Kirliliğin İnsan Sağlığı Yönünden Önemi”, Kıbrıs Türk Mühendis ve Mimar Odaları Birliği, 2. Water Convention, 23-24 February 1995, Lefkoşa, p.131-157.