YEREVAN. – We have studied ELARD’s data, and have also sent inquiries to a number of government agencies, such as Hydromet [Service of the Hydrometeorology and Active Influence on Atmospheric Phenomena], which has given information in connection with evaporation. Minister of Environment Erik Grigoryan told this to reporters after Thursday’s Cabinet session of the government of Armenia, and asked whether there is a need for a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) related to the Amulsar gold mine.
“Now there are data there that need to be studied within the framework of the criminal case launched by the Investigative Committee,” the minister said. “In the analysis that we have sent to the Prime Minister’s office there is a certain suggestion on some modification to the [Amulsar] project.
“We have submitted—in 12 points—our concerns, the discrepancies we have found on the basis of ELARD’s conclusion and the work of the Academy.
“If we have submitted that document, it means that those facts at least need checking, studying, clarifying.”
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 sometime thereafter, Pashinyan stated that, at the moment, they had no legal grounds for banning the operation of the Amulsar mine.