People, Environment

Mining Ruse Will Cost Environment Dear

Mining Ruse Will Cost Environment DearMining Ruse Will Cost Environment Dear
Darreh Anjir Wildlife Sanctuary is home to critically endangered species such as Asiatic cheetah and Persian leopard

A section of a dirt track that runs through Darreh Anjir Wildlife Sanctuary in Yazd Province has been asphalted despite opposition from the Department of Environment, paving the way for mining activities to begin in the D19 mineral zone.

The mineral zone is rich in iron ore deposits. However, a section of the zone extends into a protected area that is the habitat of critically endangered species such as Asiatic cheetah and Persian leopard.

According to a report by Mehr News Agency, those behind the asphalt project claim the move is aimed at facilitating the movement of ranchers and cattle farmers.

However, ironically, there are neither ranchers nor cattle farmers in the area. In other words, the sole purpose of turning the dirt track into a proper road is to easily transport iron ore out of the area.

What has made this development all the more concerning is that the road violates a protected area stipulation that DOE’s permission is mandatory for all development-related activities. Yet, the road was laid down without the department’s knowledge.

“We’re completely against mining in the region for the sake of Asiatic cheetah,” Farhad Dabiri, DOE’s deputy for natural environment, told the news agency.

Chadormalu Mining and Industrial Company’s iron ore reserves are dwindling and the iron ore giant is determined to exploit new deposits. The company is eying D19, which is located in the vicinity of their mining sites.

“The mineral zone is adjacent to the Chadormalu mines, which will run out of deposits in five years,” Mohammad Nourian, chief executive of the company, said in a statement a few months ago.

“We need at least four years to fund the operation and prepare the ground to begin extracting the ores from D19, so unless we get the approval now, people will lose their jobs.”

The company says it employs 3,000 people directly and “more than double that” indirectly in Chadormalu mines.

DOE has staunchly opposed the scheme since the day it was first proposed in 2005, fearing its potentially destructive impact on the survival of species battling extinction.

“To protect these valuable species, we cannot approve the proposal,” Massoumeh Ebtekar, the head of DOE, said last year.

Nevertheless, top brass at the Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization claim tapping into D19 is “definite and imminent”.

The Persian leopard is the only living Panthera subspecies in Iran. Over the past eight years, 166 leopards have perished across the country. Major causes of death include road accidents, hunting and poisoning by shepherds trying to protect their livestock.

Asiatic cheetah—the only cheetah subspecies found in Asia—is now confined to Iran. Its numbers are down to 50, a tenth of what it was less than 40 years ago.

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