Mine exploitation plan raises wave of protest in Armenian village

12:21 * 30.08.14

Villagers in the southern region of Vayots Dzor are going to organize
a protest action against a plan to exploit a gold mine close to their

Speaking to Tert.am, the mayor of Gndevaz, Hayrapet Lazarian, said
the project aimed at launching the mine of Amulsar has angered the
local youth who are concerned about the arable lands' future. "The
village's youth has initiated this protest action. Our demand is to
understand the technologies of exploitation. The major part of our
lands goes to the exploiters. So what will become of the villagers if
the stay in the village? What are they supposed to do?" he told

The residents of other village communities in the region are not
unanimous on the idea. "I cannot say how many of them are four and how
many are against. Some want it; others do not. Some of the people are
concerned about the village's future, while others think there will be
workplaces for the villagers," Lazarian noted.

The village mayor added he personally does not support the mine
project. "The project has been submitted to us to let us know how and
where the mines are going to be exploited and whether they will be
open or close," he added.

The fact that Gndevaz is in a risk zone was confirmed later by Inga
Zarafyan, an environmental activist. "Risks in Gndevaz are rather
high, as there are plans to build a cyanide factory there," she said,
pointing out to hazards to other villages as well.

She described mine exploitation plan as a big strategic threat to
Armenia's water resources, biodiversity and soil layers.

Levon Galstyan, another environmentalist whom we contacted for
comments, also admitted the negative impact of the project. "The mine
may affect the Vorotan river's basin. If it also affects the water
reservoir in Kechut, that will have its impact on [lake] Sevan," he

As for the conflict of interest among different villagers, Galstyan
noted that most people agree to work in the mine for X sums of money.

The environmentalist said he knows that 15,000 people in Armenia work
in mining industries, the number being less than one percent of the
country's population.

"Seven hundred jobs are due open in Amulsar; some 400 [of the
workforce] will be probably from the neighboring villages as there are
no specialists in those villages at all. We expose an entire country
to pollution for just 400 jobs, turning hectares of land lots into
unusable land areas. We don't have those estimates; a mine similar to
the one in Amulsar could not be exploited in any normal country,"
Galstyan noted.

Vahan Lazarian, a resident of Gndevaz who owns a land lot, said he is
ready to sell it to mine exploiters, citing the need of creating jobs
to prevent migration. "Yes, I am ready to give them my yard for
money," he told our correspondent.

International Finance Corporation and the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development are shareholders of Lydian
International Ltd, the main company which owns the 100% package of
Geoteam, a CJSC responsible for the Amulsar mine project's
implementation in Armenia.


From: A. Papazian