YEREVAN, October 19. /ARKA/. The Administrative Court of Armenia has ruled in favour of Lydian Armenia, a subsidiary of TSX-listed Lydian International, and upheld the company’s appeal against a directive of the environmental and mining inspection body, which had blocked mining at the Amulsar site.
Former head of the inspection body, Artur Grigoryan, directed Lydian on August 27, 2018, to refrain from any mining-related activities until the Ministry of Nature Protection had conducted a study of “newfound ecological factors”, which he alleged had been identified at the Amulsar project for the first time.
According to a Lydian statement this week, the Administrative Court of Armenia established that the existence of the alleged ecological factors had not been substantiated after independent investigation. The court also found that Grigoryan had been actively involved in anti-Amulsar activities prior to his appointment as the head of the inspection body, which it said “raised reasonable doubts on his objectivity”.
The development of the Amulsar project has been at a standstill for over a year due to local blockades. In July 2018, Lydian Armenia had been granted the exclusive right to develop the Amulsar gold deposit in the southeastern Armenian province of Vayots Dzor, filed a complaint in support of a criminal investigation against activists at the blockades, which was later upheld in court.
That same month, a criminal investigation was opened into whether Armenian public officials had withheld information regarding potential environmental damage at Amulsar. The Armenian authorities allocated nearly $400,000 to Lebanon-based Earth Link & Advanced Resources Development (ELARD) for an independent review of the project’s environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) as part of that investigation.
The independent review was published earlier this month. Referring to it Prime Minister Pashinyan appeared to permit the mine to go ahead despite protests in Jermuk and Yerevan. However, several days later Pashinyan requested that Armenia’s Ministry of Environment decide whether a further environmental impact assessment (EIA) was required for the Amulsar project.
Lydian Armenia, established in 2005 and owned by Lydian International LLC, extract gold in Armenia. The Amulsar Gold Mine program is the company’s first project in Armenia. Amulsar is the second biggest gold field, which contains 31 million tons of gold ore and 40 tons of a pure gold. It sits in the south-eastern area of Armenia, 13 kilometers from Jermuk.