YEREVAN, August 20. /ARKA/. As Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan was having a meeting with the governor of Vayots Dzor Region, Mayor of Jermuk, heads of rural communities and environmentalists, some of the latter protested against the resumption of Amulsar gold project in front of the presidential palace, the venue of the meeting.
On August 15 the Toronto-based Lydian International Limited announced that the Special Investigative Committee of Armenia (ICA) released the report provided to it on August 7, 2019 on the environmental audit conducted by Earth Link & Advanced Resources Development on the Amulsar Project.
In a statement, Lydian quoted Hayk Grigoryan, the head of ICA, as saying that the investigative body had analyzed the information and findings provided by the international audit report and found there were no grounds for criminal prosecution and continuation of criminal proceedings against the company.
The audit focused on the “wilful concealing of information about pollution of the environment by officials related to the exploitation of the Amulsar gold mine” and was started in March this year.
Pashinyan’s press secretary Vladimir Karapetyan told reporters today that the meeting looked into all the possible ways to tackle the problem, considering nevertheless, that the company should resume the development of the project.
“No conclusions were made during the meeting. Currently, there is no reason to conduct a new audit,” Karapetyan said, adding that the full position of the authorities will be announced in the near future.
After the meeting, Pashinyan went to the headquarters of the ruling Civil Contract party to discuss the situation around the Amulsar project. Later he said in a Facebook post that he would make a statement on the issue in the evening.
Today’s meeting was held in a tense atmosphere. Two environmentalists, Ani Khachatryan and Anna Shahnazaryan, left the room when Nikol Pashinyan was speaking in disagreement with the position of the authorities.
“We did not hear substantial arguments about the need to resume work on the Amulsar field. Mount Amulsar should remain only a mountain. This is a struggle for the right to life in a clean environment,” Khachatryan told reporters.
After the meeting, the protesters gathered outside the building of the National Assembly demanding that the government take emergency measures to stop the resumption of the mine’s operation. However, the police did not allow them to enter the territory of the parliament for security reasons. In response, the activists decided to start a protest march.
A few minutes later a part of the street was blocked, protesters were surrounded by “red berets” who tried to force them out of the roadway. The police began to use force, detaining four activists, including Ani Khachatryan.
Lydian Armenia was founded in 2005, and all 100% shares in it are owned by Lydian International. The Amulsar mine program is the first project of the company in Armenia. The Amulsar gold deposit is the second largest deposit in Armenia in terms of gold reserves and is said to contain about 31 million tons of ore and 40 tons of pure gold.
Armenian local environmentalists and residents of nearby villagers have been protesting against the development of the mine for years, claiming that the mining activities would endanger the region’s water resources and the local population’s health. . –0-