The Cyprus Mines Corporation was an early twentieth century American mining company based in Cyprus. In 1914, Charles G. Gunther began prospecting in the Skouriotissa area after reading in ancient books that the island was rich in copper and noticing promising ancient Roman slag heaps in the area. The company was established in 1916 by Colonel Seeley W. Mudd and his son, Harvey Seeley Mudd.
Initially the mine struggled, but eventually obstacles were overcome and the mine produced money. Turkish and Greek Cypriots were hired, and the town of Skouriotissa became a hub because so many miners moved there. The corporation took an old-style, paternalistic attitude towards workers, building a company town around the mine.
Harvey Seeley Mudd claimed his experience with the Cyprus Mines Corporation influenced him to push the study of humanities in the engineering college he started, Harvey Mudd College.
The Cyprus Mines Corporation provided copper to Nazi Germany right up until the start of the World War II. Although it is clear they knew they were giving aid to the Nazi military, the owner of the mine claims he didn't want to put the Cypriots out of jobs by cutting sales to Germany. They were, however, disturbed by Hitler's policy of Jewish persecution, and in late 1938, CMC established a relief fund along with their agent to help former business associates get out of Germany.
Long strikes took place in 1948, organized by the Pancyprian Federation of Labour and the Turkish Cypriot trade unions. After extending the initial five-day strike, the union asked for government intervention. The government declared that they could not start an inquiry since wages were not substandard.
One of the operating mines and the company's processing plant fell north of the cease-fire line in Turkish-occupied Cyprus following the Turkish invasion in 1974, whilst the rest of the companies mines were the other side of the Green Line. Given this insurmountable problem, the Cyprus Mines Corporation pulled out of Cyprus and the Mavrovouni mine and processing plant remained in an area not controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus.
As in most mines, the tailings, waste left over from processing ore, are a problem, and as of 2006, there are no plans to clean up the tailings. The people of Cyprus are left with neither the income from the mines nor the use of the now polluted land surrounding those mines because they have no way to pay for the cleanup. Local farmers claim that citrus crop yields have been lowered by contaminated dust blowing in. Studies of local fruit have found high heavy metal levels and decreased fruit size and quality. The effect of the mine is a growing issue for Cypriot environmentalists and NGOs.
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