In Armenia, tensions have ignited regarding the mining industry, between government, environmentalists and an organization called “Lydian International”. The environmentalists are against the operation of a new mine, whereas the government insists on its implementation.
“Lydian Armenia” was registered in Armenia in 2005 and announced that gold had been found in the area of Amulsar Mount in Vayots Dzor Province. In 2012 the company received a subsoil permit from the state and since 2016 has started construction in Amulsar. After the Armenian Revolution of 2018 the new government initiated an investigation into the legality of that permit.
“Lydian Armenia” represents British “Lydian International” OJSC in Armenia. The latter is a new company entrant into the mining industry and doesn’t have extensive experience in the field. Lydian applied to the Georgian and Lebanese governments several times for collaboration but were refused because of many failures.
Different environmental organizations and initiatives of Armenia, as well as inhabitants of Jermuk city (a city with rich mineral waters 10km from Amulsar), have protested to stop construction of the mine since 2012. They are concerned about possible contamination of Jermuk and Sevan waters. In 2018 they blocked the main road of the mine for a long period of time.
Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan gave a promise to Jermuk regarding a new investigation in December 2018 during the election campaign, which was followed by snap elections.
“The crucial point and purpose of the investigation is to select a body which will be organized by an international company in the form of competition. The main aim of the body will be finding out the threat to Sevan and Jermuk waters,” he said.
After the formation of the new government a Lebanese “Earth link and Advanced Resources Development” (ELARD) company was asked to conduct the investigation of Amulsar while Pashinyan had promised that an international company would be engaged for the new investigation.
The monitoring results provided by the company were announced this August which made the situation even worse. According to the Armenian government and to Lydian Armenia the results show the mining industry does not negatively affect the mineral waters and nature of Armenia. “If the exploitation of the mine was a threat for Armenian water resources it would not be mined. However, according to the conclusion of the investigative committee the risks are controllable and even 1 liter of contaminated water won’t appear in our water resources,” Pashinyan announced.
The environmentalists and activists don’t share that opinion and they doubt the results are in line with reality. They are concerned about the rocks and cyanide that will be released during and after mining process and are sure they will mix with fresh and mineral waters.
Parliament deputy Hayk Gevorgyan justified their position to rule against the environmentalists declaring that if they stop both the contract and construction work now, “Lydian International” will apply to Arbitration Court demanding compensation which might reach $700 million. However, according to lawyers, “Lydian International” is registered in an off-shore zone which restricts it from any judicial processes.
Currently activists, people living near the mine and environmentalists, are protesting in front of the Parliament building. Different flash-mobs and events are being organized to stop the ongoing construction of the mine. In the government the discussions about the issue are still in process.
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