SpitRain VI

A glod mine in Armenia

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

It has been almost three years since any person or organization won the much-coveted “SpitRain” award, but boy-oh-boy does this winner deserve it in a grand way. You’ll remember Spit-Rain comes from the Armenian saying, “He’s so shameless, if you spit in his face, he’d think it’s rain.”

The winner is Deno Gold Mining Company (operating a gold mine in Ghapan), a wholly owned subsidiary of Dundee Precious Metals (DPM), a Canadian company whose stock is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It might be time for that market to review whether or not DPM should retain its listing, given the behaviors it is tolerating by its subsidiary.

Mining is a dirty industry, there’s just no way around that reality. However, it is possible to minimize the damage it causes to the environment and the people employed in the mines by using enlightened practices and paying attention to safety.

But, Deno Gold seems to have chosen the opposite path, opting for a worst-practices approach.

In this case, Deno Gold has decided to sue Yeghia Nersesian for slander. You will recall that Yeghia is the environmental and civic society activist who visited the Los Angeles area in December of 2012. According to Deno Gold, his “transgression” occurred when Yeghia reported that the Deno Gold uses electro-shock on its employees (it’s not clear to me how this is applied, or if this refers to the use of a taser) to keep them working. Now, this fine, upstanding company is worried about its good name and wants the “slander” corrected.

You might wonder why this same company didn’t get worked up into a lather when this was reported well over two years ago in the media in the Republic of Armenia (RoA). The obvious conclusion is— Deno Gold didn’t think that would get much play. But, our mine-lord does seem to be frothing at the mouth now that word is out in the Diaspora where broader segments of society might get wind of it.

There’s also speculation I’ve heard that Deno Gold is doing this at the behest of the RoA’s government. Why would official Yerevan be interested in doing this, you’ll naturally wonder? Simple, Yeghia has been very effective at mobilizing people and drawing attention to a multitude of ills in the country that stem from misgovernment. Thus, silencing such a critic by saddling him with an onerous financial penalty, courtesy of Armenia’s wonderfully “objective” courts, would suit the government’s interest in masking its failings.

Whichever motive is the real one (or perhaps both are, or some other factor is), shame on Deno Gold!
Write the offender and its parent. If you live in Canada, especially Toronto, you might even write your local newspapers about this. Give them a piece of your mind. Tell them how obscene you think it is that they are setting up an unnecessary conflict between the conduct of their business and people’s right to free speech.

Deno Gold (no independent website)
Deno Gold Mining Company CJSC
18 Vardanants Street
0010 Yerevan, Armenia
374 285 59000

DPM
1 Adelaide Street East
Suite 500, P.O. Box 195
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5C 2V9
416/365-5191
416/365-9080 fax
info@dundeeprecious.com

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14 Comments

  1. Kapanian said:

    I would say that media is even dirtier and it is obvious that the author is part of the dirt. Nothing but baseless opinion of the author who is definitely serving to some forces…
    By the way, the posted picture has nothing to do with Deno Gold.

  2. Raffi said:

    Hi Garen,

    Any proof or evidence to back up this wonderfully written and enlightening article, or are you just slinging mud again without facts? Have you been to Kapan, or are you writing this article from your home in LA based on “facts” you found on the net? Speculation you’ve heard? Is this what reporting has become?!
    I am eager to see how you can back up your claims…or you may end up being the winner of the Spitrain award based on your ignorance.

  3. Raffi said:

    …by the way, the “onerous financial penalty” you speak of, is 1 Armenian Dram! Do your homework before writing an article.
    Furthermore, whoever is funding this “environmental “activist”, can afford the fine once he loses his court case, but can that person/organization afford the apology which is required for telling such a blatant lie? You use big words, and for some reason somebody has given you a forum to spew your venom, however your article has no merit, and sounds like nothing more than a keyboard warrior trying to ruffle some feathers.
    I can go on, however I think you have already discredited yourself enough with this silly article, and I’ll just sit back and look forward to an educated and informed reply…I think we all might be waiting a while.

  4. lobo said:

    Slander isn’t covered by free speech. Is there proof as to the electroshock allegations?

  5. Tsoghig said:

    Isn’t it a fact and a well known truth that mining is terrible for every single person involved in the practice other than the owner of the company doing the mining, sitting in his office comfortably reaping the benefits of the hard work the people toiling in the mines? It is a very well known fact that mining hurts the mine workers on innumerable levels and it hurts the environment to the point where the people and the environment close to the mine is totally polluted and people get cancer? So if we have learned the lessons of mining in the US and other developed countries, that mining is a form of extreme exploitation of the people working there and of the environment (I would rather use the verb “rape” to describe what mining results in but…) why shouldn’t we all advocate for cleaner industries in Armenia where there is so little precious space/natural resources/people? Why are the four commentators to this article so vitriolic in their comments. The author is merely advocating for the health and livelihood of all the people working the mines and for Khapan. Can you guys disprove what he has written, where is your evidence?

  6. Raffi said:

    First thing’s first, its very intersting that the author of the article has decided not to add anything to the above queries, even though he has seen the comments. I guess silence does speak volumes.
    As far as Tsoghigs comments, where to begin? Actually, no it is not a fact the mining is terrible for every person invloved. The employees themselves are also reaping benefits, such as salary for them to feed their families, and the money that they spend in the community is allowing the storeowners and the corner grocers to also make a living. Its a small thing called supoorting the economy. Furtheremore Tsoghig, you yourself are reaping the benefits of mining. The laptop or smartphone that you are using to post on this website has minerals such as copper in it. Are you willing to stop using them?
    What exactly are the innumerable levels that it hurts the mine workers? Contrary to what you believe, working in a mine does not cause cancer. The environment next to a mine is not totally polluted. It can be if laws are not followed and outdated methods used, however if a mining practice is deemed safe in Australia and Canada, chances are its good enough for Armenia. What lessons have you learned about mining in the US? I’ll answer that for you. Its the fact that without mining,you cannot have the day to day things that we all use everyday. Also, can you give some ideas about “cleaner industries” that we can advocate in Armenia? Actions speak louder than words, yet it seems you all want to “talk” about things as opposed to coming here and “walking” on the ground, and seeing how life is. Come and talk to a Kapanian that you want to shut down the mine, and take away their livelihood, and that they cant work anymore. What will they do? Everyone is up in arms about people leaving Armenia…well of course they will leave if they cant work and makean honest living.
    As far as being “vitriolic” in my comments, its because the author is lying, and is trying to effect the people of the city in which I live in a negative way. The author has never been to Kapan, and chances are you have not been either, yet you want to make comments about the life here. I live in Kapan. I breathe this air, I drink this water, and I eat food around tables with people who work in the mine…food paid for by the mine. We are not crippled with cancer, and we can grow our vegetation and eat it comfortably. The truth of the matter is, there are many more cancerous materials in the vegetables you grow with steroids in the US than there are here. I am an advocate for the MY people here, as I live the same life they do. Can you say the same?
    One final point. It’s fairly obvious you are from the US,and you should be familiar with the saying “innocent until proven guilty”, since when is it that the accused has to disprove what is written and provide evidence? Shouldn’t the accusing party have to back up their claims with solid evidence and proof to make a valid point, or has society changed to the point where anyone with internet access has become an expert and we should just take their word for it?

  7. Raffi said:

    Sorry Anna, you and I both know those are not “facts” They are accusations that don’t hold water. A fact is someting that is concrete and cannot be disproved, the things that were posted in that article are nowhere near meeting the criteria of a fact. The sources used were ecolur and hetq, neither of which did any due dilligence to investigate the false claims.
    By the way, Yeghia have any luck in “producing” any evidence for his tirade against Deno Gold? I dont think so. Have any of his “followers” questioned him as to what the next course of action is when he is proven to be a liar?

  8. AE said:

    Raffi, it seems that you are quite the impassioned defender of mining in general AND mining-practices in Armenia in particular. So you should not have any problems with showing up with actual facts on number of jobs created by mining in Armenia, actual wages paid, actual environmental damage inflicted (or not), mining standards maintained, the benefit to the state (wages, taxes, econimic development). I have not been to Kapan but have been to Teghut and Shnogh on many occasions. I am happy to report that people are excited about alternative forms of economic development rather than mining. I am per se NOT against any and all mining. However, Armenia being a country with a very small landmass and the effects of mining even in the best of conditions is something that MUST be heavily regulated. Finally, who owns these mines, they are the sovereign wealth of the Armenian people and should managed as such. What I see is the vast majority of this national wealth benefiting very few people (Armenian and otherwise) and not really bringing anything sustainable to the country. The farmers and villagers in these areas could support themselves with traditional subsistence farming far better than the mining jobs at $150/month… I think ALL the mining licences should be reviewed, proper hearings held in these communities, transparently discussed on short, intermediate and long term costs/benefits to the entire country. Finally, you are calling a lot of folks liars, then you should be also held to the same standard and deliver the proofs that they are liars… “innocent until proven guilty”. Finally, I invite you to an open debate (virtually or physically) where we can debate the pros and cons of mining for the Armenian context. You name the time and place (or virtually) and we’ll make it happen. Thanks in advance for keeping an open mind and I also hope that we all are focused on the well-being of our country and our people having the opportunity for a dignified life in a sustainable environment.

  9. Raffi said:

    Hello AE.

    First of all, I am an impassioned defender of justice, and the right of the people in my city to make a living. As far as mining practices, given that its the oldest proffession in the world, and the world CANNOT survive without mining, yes I do defend it…as far as Armenia in particluar, given the fact that I live here, I have a vested interest. As far as facts are concerned, here is a number of facts for you. Deno Gold currently employs 1227 employees. How is that for job creation? It is a fact, (check with the Government), that Syunik region has the highest wages of anywehre in the country, including Yerevan. In all of Syunik, Kapan has the highest income per capita. Given the fact that Deno is the largest company here, its pretty self explanatory. As far as environemtal damage is concerned, there is always issues with environment in Armenia, starting with the lack of a proper recycling program, littering, and an absence of a emissions testing program. People, including myself should be happy about alternative forms of economic growth, however those should be based on facts, as opposed to empty promises. If the government, or any other organization for that matter can guarantee 1227 jobs at the same wages for the people of Kapan, then I for one would have no problem whatsoever in shutting down a mining operation. Furthermore, that same organization would have to provide the same Corporate Social Responsibilty to the citizens of Kapan…including but not limited to renovating kindergartens, schools, churches, womens shelters, etc.
    As far as regulations are concerned, I couldnt agree more! I believe there should be the strictest of rules governing mining. Having said that, it should be done by international independant contractors, as opposed to the people sitting in Yerevan. I would like to add here, Deno Gold operates, both Environmentally speaking, and Health and Safety wise, at Canadian standards. Deno Gold has a responsibility to its Corporate Head Office to ensure we follow the rules set forth by our parent company.
    Alas AE, after a few points, you went back to a non fact. The average wage at Deno Gold is above $500/month, and that does not include bonuses. Please come speak to the miners here, and ask them about the bonus programs, and how most of them go home with over $1000USD/month.
    I’ve been brought up to speak the truth, and when a person is a liar, I have no problem calling them out! Please go ahead and hold me to that standard, as I would be more than happy to oblige. Everything that I have written above is true, and I keep returning to the site to defend. Can you say the same about the author?
    As far as a debate, as the saying goes, “my doors are always open”. As far as a time and a place, how about Kapan? Since this is the place we’re discussing, it would be more than fitting to have it happen here. We can walk the town and you can ask the residents yourself what they think. We can visit the hospital, and the kindergartens, and you can see for yourself the “proof”, which I live everyday. As you may have guessed, my name is Raffi. That is my real name, and I’m quite easy to find. We can start by you telling me your real name. Are you currently in Armenia?
    In conclusion, I am calling Yeghia a liar for what he said about the electroshock. I am calling the author a liar because the whole article is a lie. I will not reconsider my stance until they have a shred of proof or evidence.
    Again, for doing nothing wrong, I shouldn’t have to provide evidence, hoever I have done so and everything Ive said above can be verified. It’s the people throwing around accusations that need to step up to the plate. Yesterday was World Environment Day, and we did a number of things here in Kapan to both physically help the environment, and to educate our children about what they can do in the future. I wonder what our environmentalist activist friends were up to.
    In conclusion, the ball is in your court AE.

  10. Raffi said:

    http://lurer.com/?p=38212&l=am

    By the way, please click on the link above and see for yourself the wage situation that we have discussed. Please pay extra attention to the last 2 paragraphs.

    I look forward to your reply.

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  12. AE said:

    Hi Raffi,

    My name is Alfred and I live in Armenia and the US. I have been coming to Armenia since 1996 and have made a 40-year ukhd to do all I can to create high tech jobs and other jobs in Armenia. I will be more than happy to come down to Kapan on my next trip in August. And I will walk the town with you. Then may be we can have a public debate about the pros and cons of the mining and other alternatives to mining. I agree that we need to either find alternative economic activity or else for the citizens of Armenia. Ultimately, we, ALL of US, have to look at the current and long term sustainability of Armenia not only for this generation but for generations to come. I am glad that you and Deno Gold are open to a public forum that can examine the facts, the benefits and the actual costs of mining. By the way, can you please share some additional information on how much has been invested, how much profit has been generated and how much in wages, taxes, and public good spending has been spent by your company so far? It would be good to have facts and to assess pros-cons. So assuming that 1227 workers receive $1000/month in actual total wages and bonus, that equals $14,724,000 in income. It would be great to verify these numbers if you can. It would be much appreciated. In the meanwhile, how can I/we get a hold of you besides this forum? Please advise.

  13. Raffi said:

    Hi Alfred,

    Glad to hear that you are “living” in Armenia. How is the job creation thing working? Have you been able to create many work places for our fellow citizens? I’m also happy that you are taking me up on my offer to come to Kapan, however why wait till August? I will stay true to my word and walk the streets with you, however I have no interest in taking part in a public debate, as I refuse to be used as part of someones agenda. It is now fairly clear that you are not speaking as an individual, and that you belong to a certain “organization”. I’m sorry, I will not allow you to get publicity from this. The point of this meeting was supposed to be fact finding and an exchange of ideas between 2 Armenians concerned about our fellow citizens. As far as looking at long term sustainability, it sounds very good, however if we are only planning for the future, and stop thinking about the present, there arent going to be many Armenians left here 10 years down the road. I’m sure you are familiar with the mass exodus that is taking place, and if we dont have jobs for people here, its only going to get worst. I fully agree that we need to think long tern and plan ahead, but that doesnt mean it should be at the expense of the present. They can be done simultaneously. Deno Gold has always been open and trasparent. Just this past Saturday, many NGOs and media were invited to the site, and were given a tour and an opportunity to ask questions directly to the GM. Curiously, very few reps from Yerevan showed up. Maybe the 5 hour drive to Kapan from their cushy homes in Yerevan was too much for them. If they had come, they would have seen with their own eyes that pretty everything they write is false…you think that may have played a role in them not coming? Furthermore, Yeghia and his “army” didn’t show up. You would think if they were so dedicated to their cause they would have sent at least one rep! Also, Yeghia and his lawyers never showed up to court last week. Do you see a trend? They sling mud and accusations, however when they cant back it up they disappear.
    As far as invenstments, profit and taxes, those are questions you should direct to the GM. Also, I never said every employee earns $1000/month. Please read my post again. It states clearly that the average salary is $500/month…and more with bonuses. Actually at the moment the average salary has gone above the above noted figure. How would you like to veryfy it? The GM confirmed in an interview this past weekend that the average salary is about 250,000AMD per month. Also, you didnt comment on the link I posted about the wages in Kapan. Here is another link for you from someone who actually has visited the site and spoken to employees and management , and can write an article based on facts: http://haynews.am/hy/1371474542

    As far as getting a hold of me, feel free to leave me your number or email and I can contact you. However, who is we? What organization do you represent?

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