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Amulsar: A Possibility for the Modernization of the Armenian Mining Sector

An article by Armen Stepanyan, VP Sustainability, Lydian Armenia for Massispost.com

For years the Armenian mining sector has been criticized for poor environmental management and lack of transparency. As an environmental scientist I believe that the environmental management in the Armenian mining sector would benefit from significant reforms. Mining is the backbone of the economies of countries such as Canada, Australia, Sweden. Mining as an industry has changed rapidly in the last decades, offering new solutions to responsible environmental and social management. Today, mining that offers “Zero Harm” and even “Beyond Zero Harm” concepts is a reality in many developed mining jurisdictions. Armenia still has to catch up. Mining, if performed responsibly, can benefit economies and the communities. We believe that the Amulsar project is a solution and not another problem for the Armenian mining industry.

The Amulsar Gold mine is the flagship project of Lydian Armenia, a 100% owned subsidiary of Lydian International Limited. The Project is also one of the largest investment projects in Armenia since independence, with over $400 million invested to date. Lydian International is a publicly quoted company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. This means that information with respect to the company is transparent and publicly available for all stakeholders. Among the major shareholders are a number of reputable institutional investors, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who require their investees to follow stringent environmental and social standards. Amulsar is the only mining project in Armenia designed and managed under EBRD and IFC Environmental and Social Standards and Requirements.

It is worth mentioning that Amulsar project’s Environmental Impact Assessment is unprecedented in Armenia, both in volume and in content. Lydian has invested more than $6 million on environmental studies since 2008, including engaging reputable international and Armenian organizations such as Wardell Armstrong International, Golder Associates and Global Resource Engineering. The project is designed and constructed to prevent, mitigate or compensate for all possible impacts. It is obvious even to many of the project’s opponents that Amulsar has set a high standard in the industry.

But despite a new approach in the Environmental management, there is still some distrust. We understand the roots of this distrust, stemming from society’s experience with the negative impacts of irresponsible mining in other projects. But things will hardly improve in the environmental management by the mining industry in Armenia if the criticism is based on myths and manipulations instead of facts. One of these manipulations and myths is the claim of the possible impact of the Amulsar mine on the Lake Sevan and Jermuk waters because of possible acid rock drainage risk (ARD).

 

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