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.