Field Visit Agrokipia/Mitsero/Lefke/Lefka Mining area
The mining history of Cyprus goes back to the fourth millennium BC. About 40 abandoned mines and over 300 abandoned and functioning quarries can be found around the island. Many of these have not yet been rehabilitated leading to a variety of environmental problems. Under this framework, TCE organized a field visit to Agrokipia/Mitsero and Lefke/Lefka mining areas.
Led by the co-chairs, Salih Gücel and Michael Loizides, the members of the Technical Committee were joined by Jakhongir Khaydarov UNDP Head of Office in Cyprus, Nilgun Arif UNDP Programme and Communications Analyst, Cecília Rodrigues European Commission Program Manager, Greek and Turkish Cypriot technical experts to work in the field of Mining and Quarrying. The main objective of the team was to illustrate the environmental challenges observed in these areas as well as to witness the rehabilitation efforts that have been already implemented and identify common areas for future cooperation.
The team's first stop was at Agrokipia A´ rehabilitation site, where the experts had the opportunity to observe first-hand the rehabilitation of the old mine. The local authorities of Agrokipia village joined the team of experts sharing information regarding the history of the mine and the applied good practices in the area like the tree planting and its results. Experts working in the area also provided with details on what has been already done in the area and what are the future plans. Aim is to restore nature to its previous state. Among the proposed ideas is to include this area in a thematic mining route as an alternative on sustainable tourism from which the local community can benefit.
The second stop of the team was at Mitsero village, Kokkinopezoula mining area. The local authorities of Mitsero village joined the team of experts sharing information regarding the history of the mine and the good practices applied in the area. The most interesting part of this specific area is the natural reforestation observed. As the experts noted the high concentration of the sulfur accumulated in the area is one of the main problems which in most of the cases prevent the trees from growing. Human activity such as the waste deposited in the surrounding area is another major issue. A few minutes away stand the Facilities of the Kokkinogia Mine including the case hoisting of the well, and a part of the railway as well as a gallery of the old mine along with piles of ancient slag, witnesses of the mining activity of the area.
Last stop of the field visit was at Mavrovouni/ Lefka/Lefke mining area which used to be the largest mine in Cyprus. Experts that worked in the area when the mine was still operating recounted the rich history of the mine and surrounding area. Passing through the villages the team was informed about the life of the miners as most of the houses belong to the workers of the mines and their families. Unfortunately, the whole area is surrounded by a disturbed environment of the abandoned mine that is now running as an illegal dumping site creating various environmental problems to the local community. The team also visited the Striking Miners statue connected to the miners' strike of 1948 that took place in Lefka/Lefke. The monument honors the memory the Turkish and Greek Cypriots workers of Cyprus Mine Corporation who fought together for basic rights such as overtime payments and better working, life and environmental conditions posing a great example of Turkish and Greek Cypriot working together. A few minutes away stand the facilities within Lefka/Lefke reservoir including the workers baths, the water damp and the galleries of the old mine, witnesses of the mining activity of the area.
The field visit closed with an open call for proposals to address pressing environmental issues in the field of mining and quarrying, working together for common future. The co-chairs of the committee thanked the local communities and all participants for their generous hospitality and the chance to discuss and share views and indicative activities for immediate and future common actions on urgent environmental issues that need to be addressed. One of these issues is the air pollution caused by the operating quarries. The possibility of creating a model monitoring system for specific parameters of air pollution such as dust and noise is one of the ideas emerged from this field visit that could have a positive impact on both the two sides/communities and the environment. Another idea is to create an educational program raising awareness regarding the environment by giving the opportunity to young students to learn more about the geology of Cyprus and acquire their own small collection of minerals connected with the geology of Cyprus that could be plotted in a map showing important geomorphosites of Cyprus.