They are now begging the Diaspora for money to exploit Amulsar mine

Ամուլսար լեռը

Foreign companies with mining projects in Armenia are now reaching out to the Diaspora, organizing various meetings where they portray mining as a savior for Armenia’s economy and our people’s welfare.

The heads of Lydian International, a company registered in the UK’s Channel Islands, and its Armenian affiliate Geoteam held a meeting with the Los Angeles Armenian community on October 2nd, where they called on people to invest in the Amulsar gold mine. A similar meeting is scheduled on November 7th in New York. We can assume that these companies need serious financial investment to carry out their exploitation and are now trying to involve our compatriots in their dangerous project.

Amulsar is not the only issue. The problem is systematic.

The government of Armenia has identified mining as a key cornerstone of development, claiming that it makes up our economy’s backbone. Those who raise
concerns over environmental disaster are accused of making emotional arguments and only being concerned with nature. With this article, we seek to present the facts and figures to keep informed the organizations that fund this kind of mining projects. Also, we are saying to our compatriots that, of course, it is possible to invest money to make earnings. But if the main goal is to help Armenia then, before funding any new mining projects, one must first clarify the legislative framework in this field. What sort of mining strategy is being implemented and what, at the end of the day, is being
done with the money being made?

A legislative heaven has been created for mining

Operating a mine in Armenia is very enticing. The legal and tax field in this sector is set up in such a way that companies really find themselves in heaven. The taxes to be paid for taking the natural resources of current and future generations are virtually no different than tax rates in other sectors of the economy—when they should be much greater. It is for this reason that mining makes up 3% of our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Mining companies in Armenia are completely exempt from paying fees for tailings, dumps, and relocation of mine rocks. If these were taxed even to the most minimal degree—as they are, for example, in Estonia at 1.06 Euros for each ton—they would bring in hundreds of millions of Euros annually. This amount alone would be more than all of the current taxes and fees paid by mining companies combined.

Fines for polluting the environment and threatening people’s health are so low that it is more profitable for a company to pay a small pollution fee than invest in new technology and cleaning systems.

The complete production cycle does not operate in Armenia. Raw materials are not turned into final products here. We ask our compatriots investing in mining to name a single enterprise that makes a final product in Armenia. We have to face the fact that we have become an outpost for economically stronger countries to extract raw material. We are serving and developing other countries at the cost of destroying our own natural environment.

A question naturally arises: is there any developed country in the world that would allow mining on its land under these conditions? If so, please bring forth the example.

No more new mines in Armenia or why Amulsar should not be exploited

The current inadequate legislation is only one side of the issue. Even existing laws are not enforced. The Amulsar gold mine project does not take into account the very real risks to the environment and human health that the public, certain state institutions, and independent experts have repeatedly raised before the Ministry of Environment, government, Lydian International’s main shareholders, the International Financial Corporation (IFC), and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Why Amulsar must not be exploited? Please find the detailed information here.

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We urge all Armenians, our compatriots living abroad who are invited by mining companies Lydian International Ltd and Geoteam CJSC, to the discussions of Amulsar project to refrain from attending them.

Let’s remember that the Republic of Armenia has a total area of 29.7 thousand square kilometers and currently 460 mines are being exploited, of which 26 are metal mines and another 71 metal mines are in the study phase, awaiting to be in operation in the near future. As a result of the operating mines, we already have a few hundred million tons of waste and about 25 current and past tailings filled with heavy metals and other perilous substances.

If we continue in this manner, in 20-30 years, we will have hundreds of extremely toxic and dangerous mine dumps in Armenia, which will be a disastrous scenario for the country and its people.

So far we have not achieved radical changes of the governmental system in Armenia, particularly the legislative framework of the mining industry and
environmental preservation has not been reviewed concerning taxes and other fees. Considering that no long-term planning of mining projects and proper environmental impact assessment is being done, the expected profit from the mining industry does not strengthen Armenia’s economy and is not in Armenia’s welfare. We, the people of Armenia, announce that we will take every action to prevent the destructive process of mining in our country. In addition, we strongly condemn discussions and forums organised by mining companies, which serve to obtain support for faster exploitation of Armenia’s minerals.

Our request towards international banks and organisations is not to act with double standards by financing mine projects. They emphasize the importance of community development and agricultural projects on one hand yet act as financers and shareholders of destructive mining projects on the another hand. Consider that all organizations and banks, whose activities harm our environment, endanger the health and lives of our citizens, cause vulnerability to the safety of our state will gain deep mistrust from the public, get their business names discredited and reputations destroyed!

We ask everyone’s attention towards two videos that demonstrate who is exploiting the wealth in Armenia’s soil, and how? What kind of environmental and health issues are being created by the aggressive exploitation of mines? What are the Armenian people’s benefits of all of this…?

Environmental documentary Armenia’s breaking backbone

Mining is a threat to Syunik ARTV clip

Pan-Armenian Environmental Front (PAEF)


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