Armenia’s Inspectorate for Nature Protection and Mineral Resources suggested that Lydian Armenia company stop mining operations at the Amulsar gold deposit until a repeat environmental audit of the project is over, the Ministry of Nature Protection said.
Armenian local environmentalists and residents of nearby villages have been protesting against the development of the mine for several years, stating that the mining activities are endangering the region’s water resources, ruining vegetables and fruits planted in the area and particularly the local population’s health.
Based on the findings of a previous audit of the project, the Inspectorate General suggested that the Ministry of Nature Protection, recognize the expertise conclusion of the project, approved by the nature protection minister on April 29, 2016 as invalid.
The head of Inspectorate asked the Office of Prosecutor General to find out whether extraction of ore by the company without the right to use the subsoil contains elements of crime. Administrative proceedings were launched against a water distributor in the town of Yeghegnadzor to determine whether it had right to supply water to Lydian Armenia for production purposed from Kechut-Zaritap irrigation water pipeline.
Administrative proceedings were also instituted against the administration of the town of Jermuk to find out whether the decision of Gndevaz district to provide water to the company was legal. Also, a report was submitted to the Prime Minister about the results of inspections at companies contracted by Lydian Armenia for construction work at Amulsar deposit.
Lydian Armenia was founded in 2005, and all 100% of shares in it are by Lydian International. The Amulsar mine program is the first project of the company in Armenia. The Amulsar gold deposit is the second largest deposit in Armenia in terms of gold reserves and is said to contain about 31 million tons of ore and 40 tons of pure gold. Armenian local environmentalists and residents of nearby villages have been protesting against the development of the mine for years, claiming that the mining activities would endanger the region’s water resources and the local population’s health. Prime Minister Pashinyan promised that an ad-hoc expert group would be established to examine whether Amulsar gold mine and all other mining operations in the country comply with Armenian law and environmental protections norms.