“We work on acid rock drainage preventing seepage, showing that mining can work without harming the environment. We use a technology from Australia called hydrotalcite to separate solids and liquids and reclaim the metals. Unfortunately, this is still a new technology to Turkey.”
Could you introduce the main activities of Mitto Consultancy?
We started providing services in Turkey 11 years ago and now have 45 employees. Mitto provides solutions to mining companies from exploration to production and reclamation. Additionally, we carry out environmental impact assessments; our aim is to make mining in Turkey more environmentally sustainable. Mitto has four departments which all work together on a project such as an EIA. For a variety of consultancy projects, we also collaborate with the universities, such as Middle East Technical, Hacettepe and Bilkent universities. We are a Turkish company with Turkish engineers and would like to extend our services to other parts of the world, using our expertise. As well as Turkey, we are also trying to enter Sudan and Kyrgyzstan.
What innovative technologies is Mitto using which enhance its services?
The programs we are using are highly advanced by Turkish standards. We use software such as Surpac, Leapfrog and FreeFlow to create sustainable mining operations, optimize production and design mines. Mitto also works on acid rock drainage and in situ barrel tests, preventing seepage and showing that mining can work without harming the environment. We use a technology from Australia called hydrotalcite which helps prevent seepages. Through this process we separate solids and liquids to reclaim the metals. Unfortunately, this is still a new technology to Turkey. Only Gümüştaş is using it right now but we hope it will become more widespread.
Also, we use virtual reality (VR) technology to introduce mining projects to government officials, so that they can explore a mine from their office.
Turkey has complex geology with small deposits. What is being done to overcome this?
Coal and quarry licenses will be combined and turned into the mining fields. The license owners will have shares from the single company that will be set up and the shares will be determined according to the mineral reserve quantities license owners have. With this solution, reserves will be used more efficiently and new investments will be more feasible. Alongside this, metallic mines open to bids will be transformed into mining fields. Therefore, the opening of mineral processing plants which are used to create final products will be incentivized, and previously uneconomic small-scale mines will add more to the economy.
The government offers some incentives for companies that combine their reserves by reducing forestry fees by 50%, along with other encouragements. Momentarily this regulation only applies to quarries and coal mines, however it is expected to be extended to other mining commodities.
Does Mitto work with clients on social impact assessments and what is most important in gaining public approval for a mining project?
We offer social impact assessments to our clients and provide this service if they require funding from organizations such as the EBRD and the IFC. However, they are not often included in EIAs, as environmental impacts are given more importance by the authorities. It costs only 150 TL to sue a company on environmental grounds, and judges often do not have enough knowledge about mining so they stop projects due to public pressure. Therefore, environmental issues are given much importance by the companies.
Often, the local population would like to gain employment from a project, and support for their farming activities. Sometimes the mining company or the government will build a school which will help convince the locals to support a project. Also important are considerations of health risks and water issues.
How does Mitto plan to grow in the future and differentiate itself from other consultancies?
We do not see ourselves as competitors and we seek to share our knowledge with the mining community. Mitto started as a family business but we are aiming to become an international company. We already use international standards and guidelines. Turkey now has the UMREK standard and Mitto aims to have qualified persons (QPs) or provide education for those that want to become QPs. Mitto wants to keep and increase its clients worldwide and give them the best solutions available.