ArmInfo. GeoProMining Gold, which develops the Sotq deposits in Armenia and owns the Ararat gold recovery plant, as well as the Agarak Copper Molybdenum Combine, reports a production stop at Sotq. As company explained, the reason for that were the actions of a group of third parties.
In particular, on May 17-18, and also from May 22 to the present, a group of people consisting of local criminal elements, motivating their actions with political and nationalist slogans, blocked the entry and exit from the Sot` quarry and access of equipment to the station of fuels and lubricants. Protesters also blocked the road leading to the Sotq-Ararat railway line, through which the daily transportation of ore from the Sotq deposit to the Ararat factory is carried out. The stoppage of production at the deposit resulted in a stoppage of Sotq-Ararat railway line operated by South Caucasus Railways and providing about half of its revenues. In these conditions, GeoProMining Gold is forced to stop production, incl. the Ararat gold recovery plant.
According to the source, people engaged in sabotage of production at the mine face various ultimatum nationalist demands and subject the company's management and employees to threats and blackmail. But the real motivation of the protesters lies in the requirement to the management of GeoProMining Gold to allow access to the mine's territory for illegal gold mining organized by the criminal community.
The Company's repeated appeals to the RA Police Department with a request to resolve the situation with illegal obstruction of the Company's normal operation did not lead to results. The police motivates their inaction by the fact that the protests are of a peaceful nature and law enforcement bodies are not entitled to do anything in this situation. The real result of blackmail of criminal elements in the event of government inaction is the stopping of enterprises, the loss of wages by the workers, and the state's taxes on profits, extraction of minerals, social deductions to budgets of all levels of the RA, deterioration of the investment climate in the country.
"We consider it necessary to recall that in 2007 the Group of GeoPromining acquired this production complex in a deplorable state with debts to the state and the staff. In 10 years of work in Armenia, the Company invested in the modernization and development of the enterprise more than $ 505 million, becoming one of the largest Russian investors in the economy of Armenia. As a result, to date, the workforce of the Company has more than 2,000 people, and taxes paid to the budget of Armenia exceed $ 200 million. Only in 2017, GeoProMining paid out about $ 27 million to the state budget and ranked among the top five taxpayers of the country. GeoProMining expresses concern over the threat to the physical safety of its employees and calls on the Government of Armenia and power structures to stand up for the interests of the state and foreign investors fulfilling their financial obligations to the RA and ensuring implementation of social programs on the ground. The company counts on the assistance of the state and the organization of urgent measures to ensure conditions for unhindered and uninterrupted work of industrial enterprises of the Group," the statement reads.