Turkey halts gold project after protests, violence increase

Turkey ordered Cengiz Holding Wednesday to a halt to construction of a gold and copper project in the Artvin region, near the Black Sea, after thousands have kept demonstrating against the proposed mine.

Last week, hundreds put up barricades, set trash cans on fire and made bonfires with tree branches in an attempt to block construction.

The ruling marks an unprecedented victory for Turkey's environmental movement.

On Sunday, Turkish riot police fired tear gas and used sticks to disperse around 2,000 protesters who gathered close to the project site for a demonstration called by a local environmental group.

While the decision means the project may still go ahead, it marks an unprecedented victory for Turkey's environmental movement, AP reports.

The Artvin area, close to the border with Georgia, is seen as one of Turkey’s most environmentally important regions. Opponents claim the mine would ruin the surroundings.

Cengiz Holding’s chief executive, billionaire Mehmet Cengiz, is believed to be a close ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.