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YEREVAN. – At the moment, we have no legal grounds for banning the operation of the Amulsar mine. The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, on Monday stated this on his Facebook livestream.

“But it’s also understandable that we have to take into account the [respective] concerns existing in our society,” he added, in particular. “On the other hand, we also have to take into account the concerns of the economic community of Armenia.”

Pashinyan stressed that with respect to the situation regarding the Amulsar gold mine project, they have certain signals that if they do not handle this situation correctly, it could lead to a decline in Armenia’s standing, and this will affect the interest rates on loans.

“When we say that we simply don’t allow the Amulsar mine to be exploited, a very simple question arises: If so, why do you, for example, allow the Zangezur copper and molybdenum mine to be exploited? Or the Teghut [copper and molybdenum] mine to be exploited? Do they comply with all environmental standards and don’t cause any problems?” the PM said. “Here we can have a very serious problem internationally, when it turns out that we [Armenia] are discriminating against.”

The American-British Lydian Armenia company began construction of the Amulsar gold mine in 2016, announcing it will invest more than $400 million in this project.

Environmentalists, however, have kept the roads to Amulsar closed for a long time. They oppose Amulsar’s operation, and argue that the exploitation of this gold mine will have a disastrous impact on the environment.

In 2019, the Armenian government petitioned to the ELARD consulting firm of Lebanon for an expert conclusion on Amulsar. The government announced that it will make a final decision on Amulsar’s operation only after receiving this conclusion.

Subsequently, the ELARD expert conclusion stated that environmental risks will be manageable if proper monitoring is carried out at Amulsar.

But following a recent videoconference with ELARD experts, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan wrote on Facebook that several new circumstances had emerged during this videoconference, and which need to be investigated and assessed.

And he instructed the Ministry of Environment to decide whether the Amulsar gold mine project needs to undergo a new Environmental Impact Assessment.

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