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The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, is visiting the apartments in Jermuk town and speaking with their residents.

A resident of one of these apartments said she is against the operation of the Amulsar gold mine.

“Jermuk should stay a health resort,” she said. “I don’t think the mine is safe. I don’t think a mine should be operated next to a resort.”

And a woman who had returned to Armenia from the US for permanent residence said she had bought an apartment in Jermuk, but she will stay on one condition: if the Amulsar mine is not opened.

Pashinyan responded that the key issue is whether or not the mine will cause environmental damage.

“We bring in a competent person, and then they [people] say, ‘This wasn’t that competent, bring in a more competent one,’” he added. “Then we bring in a more competent one, they say, ‘No, this, too isn’t that competent.’”

The PM noted that it was written in their pre-election program that the eco-Armenia system shall be implemented in the country.

“Now if the mine has worked, it should have no effect on either the air, or water, or soil, or noise levels. Is that possible?” he asked. “Now, Amulsar is already not that mountain because a $400mn work has [already] been done there before the revolution [in Armenia last year].

“Are we putting a task that ten units of contaminated water are being discharged from there into nature, and are we putting a task that it be two or one, instead of ten? Specialists say to me, ‘No, we are putting a task that it should be zero. 

“Daily monitoring should be carried out. That [monitoring] team will take grass from the mountain across and research [it]. If it turns out that the [amount of] dust sitting on the grass is more than what it should be by international standards, then 90 days are given to eliminate that problem. If not eliminated, the mine will be shut down on all legal grounds.”

Pashinyan added that had the Amulsar mine proposal been at least at an initial phase at the beginning of his tenure as PM, his position would have been clear.

The premier noted that even though when people say, “Amulsar will remain a mountain,” it is already no longer a mountain because a $400mn-worth digging has already been carried out there.

“The [preceding] government of the Republic of Armenia has allowed the company that they come here, spend $400 or $600 million, $400 million of which have already been spent,” he said. “If it turns out that their activities are lawful, environmentally safe, if those people have made that $400-million [work] lawfully, now why don’t you let [them] work?

“There is no former and current government for the international community, or a potential investor. I’ve stated back in the year past that we need to make a decision on this matter, taking into account the balanced interest of Armenia.

“Now if it turns out that there are no guarantees that Jermuk’s air, water will be as clean as before, the background noise will be as much as before—or more accurately, within international standards, then it’s clear to me that the mine cannot be operated.

“I don’t have an economic interest, I don’t have a corruption interest on the Amulsar matter. The only interest that I have is the balanced interest of Armenia.”

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