Businessman reacts to gov’t media over ‘false reports’

Akın İpek, the chairman of Koza İpek Holding, released a written statement on Monday calling for an end to the defamation campaign against gold mining company Koza Altın A.S., a subsidiary of Koza İpek Holding, following systematic defamatory reports by pro-government media outlets.

İpek also stressed that it is in the benefit of the country that domestic mining firms invest in Turkey and contribute to the Turkish economy.

Koza Altın A.S. also released a statement on Monday denying reports by Sabah and Takvim dailies, which claimed that Koza Altın’s Mastra gold mine had been continuing its operations in Gumushane province, despite the firm claiming to have halted its operations. The statement, sent to the Public Disclosure Platform (KAP), claimed that surface mining activities had been halted in the gold mine as the firm announced to KAP on Jan. 28 and that only underground mining has continued since then.

Sabah daily claimed on Monday that Koza Altın had not informed the KAP that it was continuing its operations in the goldfield and therefore had concealed the situation from its shareholders. The daily also speculated that the firm’s operations in the mine had caused serious environmental disasters in the area and health problems in miners due to cyanide leaking.

In response to the claims, Koza Altın said that it analyzes soil, water and underground water samples on its mines a year before starting operations and also conducts analyses every month. “Moreover, public institutions also take samples and make the required analyses every month,” said the statement.

Regarding the reports on unhealthy working conditions in the gold mine, the company said that all staff have medical check-ups prior to starting work at mines and that employees have regular subsequent health checks.

“Our mines’ environmental and health practices are held up as good examples worldwide in the mining industry. The defamatory reports should be ignored,” the statement said.

It has long been speculated that the government has been working to subordinate Koza Holding’s companies and to reduce critical coverage of the government’s authoritarian policies by its media groups. Websites publishing one-sided, pro-government articles and commentary mentioned the closure of the goldfield earlier in January, a day before the decision of the closure of the Cukuralan goldfield had even reached the company, raising suspicions that the move was politically motivated.

The order for the closure of the field had come from the İzmir Provincial Administration, with the reason cited as the absence of “environmental permits or the environmental permits and licenses document.”

After the decision to close the field, Koza Altın issued a statement to the KAP, saying the decision to halt production in the goldfield was illegal and that the company would pursue legal options.

The gold mining company is the only one in Turkey with wholly domestic ownership and it is the third-placed private company among the top contributors of corporate taxes.