Protests Continue Over Mining Expansion in Kajaran


A view of Kajarian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The mayor of a remote Armenian village joined on Thursday more than 100 environmental activists in demonstrating in Yerevan against a German-owned company’s plans to expand open-pit mining in the southeastern Syunik region.

The mostly young crowd gathered outside the prime minister’s office and then marched to President Serzh Sarkisian’s official residence to demand that the Armenian government withdraw support for the project.

The government last April decided to give the Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine (ZCMC) 181 hectares of land currently belonging to six Syunik villages. Residents of at least one of those villages, Kajaran, are strongly opposed to the land transfer, saying that mining activities near their community would prove disastrous for the local ecosystem.

The Kajaran mayor, Rafik Atayan, resigned and terminated his membership in Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in protest earlier this month.

“We are asking our government to invalidate that infamous decision,” Atayan said through a megaphone as the protesters reached the presidential palace, holding up anti-mining slogans and chanting “Kajaran!”

“With a great deal of hope, we expect our president to scrap that decision,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) in separate comments. “We have big hopes.”

Organizers of the protest, among them parliamentarians from the opposition Heritage party, demanded a meeting with Sarkisian. “We were told that he can’t receive us because the president of Armenia and the chairman of the Republican Party of Armenia is busy,” Heritage Party’s Zaruhi Postanjian told the crowd moments later.

Environment Minister Aram Harutiunian said on Tuesday that the government will try to address Kajaran residents’ concerns but declined to specify possible solutions. Harutiunian also made clear that the ZCMC cannot go ahead with the project before an environmental impact assessment by his ministry.

The ZCMC, which is based in a Syunik town also called Kajaran, has said that it is taking villagers’ concerns seriously and is ready to offer them “beneficial and acceptable solutions.” But it has yet to respond to ecologists’ claims that mining operations would contaminate local water sources and agricultural lands.

“I won’t give up my house, I won’t give up my mother’s grave,” said Atayan. “I’m speaking on behalf of all villagers.”

6 Responses

for “Protests Continue Over Mining Expansion in Kajaran”

  1. Edward Demian says:

    The expansion need not turn into disaster if the “Reclamation Plan is implemented”. A good reclamation plan will leave that portion of the exhausted mine in the same condition or better than the original. Where rocky inaccessible cliffs once stood, now a level pasture is there for their benefit. That’s why ” Mine Safety Inspectors “are there to make sure that the water is not diverted or polluted, chemicals are not spilled, and that the reclamation plan is implemented. Armenia needs industry; it cannot remain an environmental enclave. like a touristic ethnovillage for the wealthy westerners.

  2. Peter Megerdum says:

    Some of these “environmentalist activists” are actually agents of foreign governments who want to want to halt economic progress in Armenia. Remember how Turkey claimed that the Armenian nuclear power plant was an “environmental” hazard. ” Environmental activists” are used by foreign powers to destroy important projects. It is important to maintain a balance of protecting the environment while helping economic progress but many of these so called ” environmentalists” are doing this to help foreign interests.

  3. bigmoustache says:

    im going to have to side with the people on this. THEY live on that land and should decide their own fate. its THEIR water theyre drinking and air theyre breathing.
    and why do we have germans mining in armenia? we are natural craftsmen and engineers at heart, its in our blood. why cant we excavate our own resources and provide jobs for armenians?

  4. Dr. Aramies Mirzakhanian says:

    Քաջարանում ազնիվ մարդկանց և գողերի ու երկիրը շահագործողների միջև պայքար է գնում: Աթայանի հոդվածի մեջ ասված է ամեն ինչ հստակ: Այս առաջին օրինակը չէ: Օլիգարխները պետական կաշառակեր չինովնիկները, ազգային ժողովի չարչի առևտրական դեպուտատները Հայաստանը դարձրել են իրենց հոր բոստանը: Օրենք չկա, ինչու թափանցիկ չեն հայտարարում օտարերկրյա ֆիրմանների հետ ստորագրած պայմանագրի կետերը, ինչքան օգուտ է հասնում պետությանը : Պղնձի մեկ կիլոգրամը Լոնդոնի բուրսային արժեքներով 7 դոլար է, ի՞նչ գնով է ծախվում Քաջարանի թալանված հումքը: Ի՞նչ պայմաններում են աշխատում հանքագործները և համեմատած Գերմանիայի հանքագործերի վարձատրման, իրենք չնչին գումար են ստանում … ILO-ի (միջազգային աշխատանքային կազմակերպության) Ժնևի կոնվենցիայի օրենքները ինչպե՞ս են իրագործվում Քաջարանի հանքագործների պարագայում… Բառիս բուն իմաստով աֆրիկյան մակարդակի գաղութատիրություն ու շահագործում է կատարվում…

  5. Hripsime says:

    It is very important to protect our land and environment! Unfortunately our Armenia is now a very small country and we must take care of ecosystem more than other countries. Please remember that when soviet union were collapsed many of developed countries send their noxious wastes to ex Soviet countries!
    It is interesting why Germans do not do such things in Switzerland? Because developed countries have high standards for protecting environment!
    At the end we must respect local people’s opinion it is their right!

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