Thursday, August 15 2019 12:44
Naira Badalian

Head of Investigative Committee says that criminal case against  Lydian Armenia will most likely be terminated: Jermuk residents are  protesting

Head of Investigative Committee says that criminal case against  Lydian Armenia will most likely be terminated: Jermuk residents are  protesting

ArmInfo. Analysis of the expert opinion on the Amulsar project of the consulting company Earth link & Advanced Resources Development (ELARD) at this stage suggests that there are no grounds for criminal prosecution of anyone. Thus, the  criminal case instituted more than a year ago is likely to be  terminated.

The Chairman of the Investigative Committee (IC) of  Armenia Hayk Grigoryan stated this on August 15 before the start of  the government meeting, at the request of the Prime Minister,  referring to the results of the expert opinion on the case.

According to the head of the Committee, based on the conclusion of  the examination, 3 important conclusions can be made. First of all,  as Grigoryan noted, this refers to the fact that there is no direct  connection between the underground waters located on the territory of  the Amulsar project and the thermal hot springs of Jermuk. There is  also no connection with the waters of the Sevan basin. "At the same  time, during an earthquake, a certain concentration of acid drainage  can penetrate into the basin of Lake Sevan through the reservoirs of  Spandaryan and Ketchut. However, the combination of this  concentration will be insignificant on the scale of Lake Sevan," the  head of the investigating body said.

The third important conclusion that can be drawn based on the  experts' study is that the possible impact of groundwater from the  Amulsar field on the Arpa, Debet and Darb rivers can be mitigated if  Lydian Armenia takes 16 environmental mitigation measures proposed by  experts. As Grigoryan pointed out, Lydian Armenia representatives  were involved in the preliminary investigation and worked with  experts from Earth link & Advanced Resources Development (ELARD)  consulting company. The day before they got acquainted with the  expert opinion, and have already expressed their willingness to  implement 15 of the proposed 16 events: they are already holding10  events, and will be ready to conduct in the near future another 5.

In addition, in order to receive financial assistance from the World  Bank, Lydian Armenia will have to apply the IFC Performance  Standards, which serve as the international benchmark for identifying  and managing environmental and social risks, adopted by many  organizations as one of the key components of environmental and  social risk management. These standards, as explained by the head of  the Committee, oblige to mitigate threats to biodiversity arising  from their economic activities, even after 100 years after using the  mine.

Meanwhile, ELARD experts propose to be guided by Nevada standards,  implying the application of such measures for 500 years. "In fact,  Lydian's representatives do not refuse to apply such measures for a  period of more than 100 years, if there is a similar need for the  future," Grigoryan said.  As pointed out by the head of the  Investigative Committee, there are currently grounds for terminating  the criminal proceedings instituted under Art. 282 of the Criminal  Code of the Republic of Armenia (concealment or willful  misrepresentation of information on environmental pollution).  The  Prime Minister noted that government representatives will familiarize  themselves with the document in full, on the basis of which they will  come to a conclusion regarding the further implementation of the  Amulsar project.

To recall, at the moment in front of the government building of  Armenia protest rally is being held against the exploitation of the  Amulsar gold deposit. Participants in the picket organized by the  Armenian Environmental Front are holding posters with slogans: "No to  corruption," "Save the planet," "Not a step back on Amulsar's issue,"  "Ivanyan, coffee with or without cyanide?" (It was Yura Ivanyan, the  head of the investigation team in the case of willful concealment of  data in connection with the exploitation of the Amulsar field, who  announced the results of the examination at yesterday's press  conference - Ed. note).  According to the protesters, the  investigating authority is manipulating the data. In addition, the  results of the examination, in their opinion, do not reflect the real  situation, and the document itself is not full. The activists believe  that such factors as the socio-economic impact on the Jermuk resort,  as well as the opinion of city residents has not been taken into  account. According to one of the protesters, after a press conference  in the Investigative Committee, residents of Jermuk and surrounding  communities organized an urgent rally where they discussed further  steps. "The inhabitants of Jermuk intend to continue their struggle,  the community has mobilized and does not intend to retreat, and the  struggle is entering a hot phase," the protesters assured.

To note, in September 2018, the Armenian government decided to carry  out an assessment of the possible consequences of the Amulsar Gold  project in terms of water resources. The scope of this audit also  included analysis of the environmental impact assessment of the  company's activities (<EIA>). And this despite the fact that the EIA  of the company has been previously approved by the Armenian  authorities in accordance with the legislation of Armenia - before  Lydian initiated the Amulsar project. As consulting firm, Earth link  & Advanced Resources Development (ELARD) was selected. In February  2019, the Armenian government allocated 396,900 US dollars to finance  the third audit, which was announced in advance.

To recall, Lydian Armenia is a subsidiary of British Lydian  International. The Amulsar project is the largest industrial project  in Armenia today for the development of the Amulsar gold deposit with  a total value of $ 370 million. In August 2016, the start of the  project involving the construction and development of the deposit  took place.

Preparatory work has been carried out since 2006. The life of the  Amulsar deposit will be 10 years and 4 months; an average of 200  thousand ounces of gold (about 10 million tons of ore) is planned to  be mined annually. Estimated mineral resources, as indicated in the  Technical Report for the 1st quarter of 2017, contain 3.5 million  verified and indicated ounces of gold and 1.3 million estimated  ounces of gold. Amulsar field is the second largest reserve in  Armenia. The company's shares are listed on the Toronto Stock  Exchange.

To note, last summer the project had to be frozen due to the protests  of environmental activists who blocked the entrance to the territory  of the mine under construction. The new government of Armenia did not  use force and stated the need for a new environmental impact  assessment to ensure full confidence in the safety of future  operation of the field, located a few kilometers from the spa resort  town of Jermuk. 

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