New lease of life and transformation into welcoming site for ancient mine in Mathiatis

South of Mathiatis, hidden in the pinewoods at the foot of Strongylos hill, is the most ancient mine of the area, which will soon come alive again with gold mining and works to restore it, with the creation of safe and comfortable areas for visitors.

In an interview with CNA, Mathiatis Community Leader, Theodoros Tsatsos, referred to the importance of the mine and the plans that have been set in motion to exploit and at the same time restore it, which is considered a great gift for the community, since it will offer multiple benefits for Mathiatis and the broader region, and will also create around 50 new jobs for the completion of the project.

The mine at the foot of Strongylos hill is the most ancient in the area of Mathiatis and dates back to 600 BC. It started out as a copper mine and it was just in 1935 that gold mining began, which lasted until 1945.

Tsatsos pointed out that to the northwest of the mine is Mavrovouni area, where one can find caves and rocks with rust, which indicates the existence of furnaces to process copper in antiquity.

He explained that the Hellenic Mining Company approached the community with an interest in exploiting the mine and soon, with the signing of the contracts, works will begin.

As a community, we did not invite this project ourselves. It was a copper mine BC. From 1935 to 1945 it was mined for gold. In those times, miners used pickaxes, pans, and ditches. Today mining is more sophisticated. There is modern machinery which can reveal the gold more successfully, Tsatsos said.

He added that 40% of the volume that the company will transport to Skouriotissa is debris processed during 1935-1945, as well as part of the crater.

The company came to us with an interest in mining. We had to study the proposal and give our positions. It is national wealth. It is gold. The Community Council itself could not just say yes or no. We had to study the proposal, see it there would be consequences or benefits, if it would be a nuisance, and act accordingly, he said.

Tsatsos noted that before the Community Council officially received the application or the environmental study, we invited the company to come to the Community Council to present its intentions, and a meeting took place in the presence of the Councils advisers, including an environmental chemist and geologist, the legal adviser, and the technical adviser.

They presented it to us and gave us the studies. The Community Council held a meeting with its advisers and when we studied the issue and discussed our thoughts, we took a decision, but before proceeding we called a community gathering, and invited the company to present the project to the members of the community and answer questions, he said.

He added that then the Community Council organised a referendum for the final decision, in which the members of the community voted 62% in favour and 38% against, and thus it was decided that the works would proceed, as long as specific conditions set out by the Community Council were met.

These conditions have to do with asphalting roads of a total length of 2 km in order to create a bypass for heavy vehicles and to minimise dust from traffic, to observe the timeframe of 25 months for the transportation of debris and gold mining, to keep within the limits of the mine as it is today and not expand it even if new deposits are found, to continuously measure the dust and take measures, such as sprinkling, in the case that a high concentration of dust is determined, to protect any antiquities found, to preserve nature and only cut down trees where absolutely necessary and under the supervision of the Forestry Department, and to restore the site.

Regarding the restoration of the site, Tsatsos pointed out that the mine is visited by many tourists and in the new year this archaeological site will be included in the Cyprus Tourism Organisation list, so it was requested that the site be restored, meaning that the Community Council will plan it and the company will construct it in the way we want, with a play area, a park, parking, kiosks, benches, pathways leading safely into the crater etc.

Among the aims of the Community Council is linking the two ancient mines by a nature trail, with a park halfway for resting, since the two mines are about 2.5 km apart from each other. This route is also part of the area for world mountain climbing sports, Tsatsos pointed out.

Tsasos also said that for the broader utilisation of the area, efforts will be made to secure European funding.

We certainly did the right thing, Tsatsos said and pointed out that there will be a general benefit for the community and development in Mathiatis and the broader region. For Mathiatis, this is a great gift, he noted.

Source: Cyprus News Agency