Amulsar Update

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

In the three weeks since I last addressed the Amulsar gold mine issue, it has remained heated and not yet resolved for the better.

Prime Minister Pashinyan had held a meeting on August 19th in which he was asking good questions. This inspired hope along with the fact that a criminal investigation had already been opened into the whole situation, based on suspicions of corruption.

You’ll recall that for several years now, a foreign company named Lydian has been working on getting permission to mine gold at a mountain south of Lake Sevan named Amulsar. By all accounts, it has gone through the most thorough vetting, procedurally, of any mine in the Republic of Armenia to date. Of course being the best of a bad lot doesn’t make it good in an absolute sense. Locals, concerned with the negative impacts of the mine on their health, economy, and environment have physically blocked access to the mine by barricading access roads for the past year.

But just a few days ago, Pashinyan announced that there was no legal basis for preventing the mine from commencing its operations. A lawyer, Nazeli Vardanyan, who has been active on this issue and is familiar with it immediately countered his assertion. The announcement came after he had given directions to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the whole matter. It seems to me that so extensive a review of all the technical and legal details could not have been conducted in such a short period of time.

This is VERY unfortunate.

As time goes on, the issue is becoming more politicized. That can easily lead to polarization and consequent greater difficulty in coming to the right conclusion as positions harden. At least four different political groupings have spoken up about this issue. One even proposed legislation modifying the RoA’s mining laws. It was quashed in parliament. Russia (obviously not a disinterested or clean-handed party) is reported to have “wondered” why American and British interests should extract gold from Armenia and take it out of the country. One commentator went so far as to describe the Amulsar mine issue as a matter of national security, arguing that any high point (the mountain is in a range whose elevations range upwards from 8000 feet) has military significance.

But all of this can be made simpler. It turns out RoA law permits no activity that may negatively impact Lake Sevan and its ecosystem. Lydian’s Amulsar threatens Sevan. How? In time, toxic water, created by the substances exposed due to mining, will work its way through underground flow and man-made tunnels to Sevan. The argument is made by those favoring mining that these will be so diluted by the time they get to Sevan, they won’t make a difference. Yet the review of the environmental documents prepared for this project by ELARD, a company hired to examine them, state that this assumption of no harm to Sevan is based on COMPLETE mixing of the toxic waters with those of Lake Sevan. The LOCAL effect, where the concentration of the poisons would be highest as they enter the lake is not examined and addressed in the environmental review.

Which brings us to another very salient fact. ELARD’s 190-page review is replete with phrases such as “This approach is clearly incorrect for the Project”, “are uncharacterized and cannot be assumed to have the same”, and “The fluxes from the pit seepage modeling are incorrect” along with specific descriptions of inexact or inappropriate assessment methods and tools used throughout Lydian’s documentation. Here, I must correct a something I had written in my previous piece whereby I cast suspicion on ELARD by noting it might have a conflict of interest. The amount of criticism in its review removes that concern.

But the bottom line is the potential harm to lake Sevan, even if other risks can be mitigated. The government of the RoA can use that as grounds to stop this mine.

Perhaps one way to get this across to Pashinyan is to hold up placards reading “Save Amulsar, Save Sevan” and other, similar, slogans when he speaks to the Armenian community in Los Angeles on September 22. Who’s up for it?

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7 Comments

  1. Concerned Armenian said:

    Nikolik was put in power by Western interests and Globalists. Therefore, he is not in power to serve Armenian interests. Moscow is simply tolerating him for now. Actually, Nikol has been giving in to Russian demands to simply save his skin. Russians know that if Armenia is to survive in a place like the south Caucasus Armenia has no choice but to remain Russia’s ally. We therefore have a very weird situation, compliments of the “peoples choice”. A country fully dependent on Russia for survival now has a ruling administration that is in the service of Western powers and Globalists. The sad/troubling part in all this is that Armenians as a collective people bot in and out of the homeland are too self-engrossed and too politically illiterate to do anything positive or constructive when it comes to Armenia’s future. With these Western agents and Neo-Bolsheviks in power, Armenia’s situation on the global stage will gradually get worst in the coming years. In the process, we will run the risk of not only polluting Armenia’s vital/strategic water resources but also losing significant amounts of land in Artsakh.

    • Gurgen2 said:

      @Concerned, i agree, Armenians are too politically immature to know when they’re being lied to and manipulated. Nikol who was vehemently against the Amulsar project while he was in opposition is now suddenly declaring that there are no legal grounds to prevent the mine. As if the future of our ancestral homeland can be reduced to the level a legal discussion. No amount of luted gold in British vaults is worth sacrificing our national treasure. Even the Soviets who knew about Amulsar’s gold, silver and uranium reserves had the sense not to endanger Lake Sevan.
      Nikol has put himself in a bind, using his western sponsored campaign to push a “peoples” revolution and now his same “people” are telling him they don’t want the damn mine. His foreign puppet masters are demanding otherwise.
      It’s important to keep putting pressure on him to stop this project in every way possible, and if the project is pushed forward by use of force against the people then it’s time to remove this guy and his team of incompetent clowns from government.

  2. Serge said:

    Please stop this nonsense comments and stop calling Pashinian a puppet. It is very easy for you to seat in your comfortable seat and criticize him for what he says or what he does. Where were you with your nonsense comments when Serge Sarkissian was looting the country? You are in no position to judge him if you are not involve in any activities that is good for country, so please stop and do something useful for your country. Don’t forget this whole Amuslar project was created by previous government which he is trying to solve it without any damage done to the state or environment.

    • Gurgen2 said:

      If the previous government made horrible decisions and the people threw them out and replaced them with a govenment that refuses to correct those decisions then what was the point of the revolution. It’s more of the same, only worse. These incompetent ones are far more dangerous than the previous ones.
      I have a right to criticize Pashinyan and his pathetic team just as I did the previous goverment, and you can bet I’ll keep doing it.

  3. Manuk manukyan said:

    What do you suggest! An agreement is signed by the previous goverment!Who will pay the money back to the Lydian company!

  4. Serop said:

    Just because Nikol managed to dislodge Serj and his attempts to hang on to power he is now a western agent. Those thugs and criminals who some call our previous leaders managed to enrich themselves beyond their wildest dreams, the corruption still runs deep so deep in fact that it needs a massive purge to remove them. I was witness to family and friends of influential minister whom I met, and how they dealt with private enterprise and foreign businessmen, corruption is everywhere but not as deep nor entrenched as it is in Armenia.
    As for Nikol being a Western agent, that is just utter garbage. The mine was approved by the previous government with substantial payoffs to various political leaders, but the current government is stuck with the deal and must compromise or go to European courts to defend and pay damages.. That is how it works for some of you that may not lknow.

    • Gurgen2 said:

      Lydian is not a European company. It’s a shady offshore company with no history and no experience in mining. They have spent no more than $30 million dollars on their constructions in Armenia and not the inflated lies about $350 million. Illegal bribes don’t count and no one’s liable for those except lydian. Anyway screw any court that threatens Armenia’s most vital strategic assets. And if you say that Armenia needs a massive purge of its criminal oligarchs then why hasn’t your favorite nikol done it after 1.5 years? You will see even worse corruptions and crimes from this new government very soon. For one thing they have been the number one enemy of the ARF since Levon Ter Petrossian. After all Nikol is Levon”s student and partner.

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