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YEREVAN. – Some former authorities’ officials, who once bought the Lydian Armenia company’s shares and became beneficiaries of the operation of the Amulsar gold mine, also have personal interests in the mine, Zhamanak (Time) newspaper.

“According to our information, Swiss Armenian businessman Vartan Sirmakes was also offered to buy Lydian’s shares, but the latter [Sirmakes] has refused to be part of that dubious project.

“So, Lydian is not only and not so much foreign capital, but also the capital of former authorities, and some prominent officials of the former authorities are also behind the operation of the mine,” Zhamanak wrote.

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

Environmentalists and activists, 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 the current year, 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 the 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 noted 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.

But recently, Pashinyan stated that, at the moment, they had no legal grounds for banning the operation of the Amulsar mine.

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