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Amulsar: Modern, Responsible, Different

Lydian Armenia presents a short video on modern mining and environmental management. This video is a brief description of just a fraction of the unprecedented for Armenia environmental management activities that Lydian undertakes at Amulsar. It highlights some of the multi-direction scientific researches that have been part of our multi-national environmental team’s everyday activities for years. We also wanted to highlight some of our environmental team members who, together with many more colleagues, consultants and experts behind the scenes have spent weeks, months and years at Amulsar to make sure all possible risks are assessed and mitigation measures are incorporated into the mine design before the start of construction. Amulsar project brings new, modern approach to mining in Armenia and we believe it will raise the bar of environmental and social management in the country.

 

 

In this video we do not touch upon technical details and all that is done by our highly skilled and professional environmental team is impossible to present in a 10 minute video, thus, answers to some of the recently re-circulated technical questions are provided below. 

 

Water resources

The heap leach facility (HLF) and runoff from the barren rock storage facility (BRSF) and pits are designed and will be operated, to ensure that no contaminants seep into the natural environment.

The ESIA also demonstrates that Lake Sevan will not be impacted. The project meets the legal requirements that processing facilities are located outside the Lake Sevan Immediate Impact Zone and the government-appointed Lake Sevan Committee has endorsed the project’s design.

It is important to emphasise, as shown by the ESIA, that the lack of impact on Lake Sevan or any other water resources is not determined by where the project is located but by how it is managed. Our water management strategy is based on one important principle: any water that comes into contact with project infrastructure will not be discharged into the environment unless it is treated and/or tested and shown to be in compliance with Armenian water discharge quality standards. Thus all surrounding natural receptors – whether soil, water or air – will be strictly protected.

All process water will be recirculated through the HLF. Sufficient storage capability will be available in the event of extreme rain or snow-melt events. Storage ponds will be double geo-synthetic lined with leak detection, collection and recovery systems installed between the layers. We will invite and train local community representatives to scientifically monitor water, air and soil quality to track any changes in conditions and ensure results are within allowable ranges.

 

Jermuk’s environment and reputation

The project has been designed to ensure that water sources will not be negatively impacted by our operations. All contact waters will be managed according to the Contact Waters Management Plan to safeguard any and all surrounding water resources. In addition to incorporating all necessary mitigation measures into the mine design, a comprehensive isotope study was conducted by international experts in 2013 which demonstrates that Jermuk’s spring water comes from an entirely different aquifer system to that with which the Amulsar project could interact. Simply put, there is no physical connection between the water sources.

Internationally, there are many examples of mines operating safely next to towns. Newmont’s Cripple Creek and Victor mine in Colorado, for example, is less than 1km from the town of Cripple Creek. There is no reason why, with proper mitigation measures in place, Amulsar should not operate successfully without negative impacts on Jermuk’s environment and reputation and that is what we are committed to doing.

 

Flora and fauna

As a result of over seven years of baseline studies and detailed research, and in collaboration with renowned Armenian and international institutions and experts, a comprehensive Biodiversity Management Plan has been produced. The overall aim of the plan is to ensure that the mine results in no net loss of biodiversity. Like any major infrastructure investment, mine development involves some changes to the habitats of local flora and fauna. However, we will minimise these through proactive measures.

Lydian has committed, for example, to the establishment of a “biodiversity offset”, which is a conservation programme to compensate for non-mitigatable impacts and which is unprecedented in Armenia. For endangered “Red Book” species we are taking additional measures: these include a detailed research programme implemented by experts from the Armenian Institute of Botany in conjunction with the University of Cambridge Botanic Garden into how to move Potentilla porphyrantha plants from the mountain, cultivate them, and return them post-mining; and an extensive baseline study looking at the presence of brown bears, Ursus arctos, in the wider region. We are also developing ambitious plans with a range of stakeholders for a national park at Jermuk to offset impacts on local wildlife habitats. This may produce both environmental and economic benefits for the region.

 

Cyanide and waste management

Cyanide is used at gold mines in many countries including OECD members such as the US, Australia, Chile and Canada. Although it is a toxic chemical, cyanide is used extensively in other industries, including cosmetics, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Cyanide does not pose significant risks provided rigorous management processes are in place. A cyanide management plan has been developed at Amulsar in line with the International Cyanide Management Code. In September 2016, Lydian became a signatory to the Code. At Amulsar’s HLF, a dilute cyanide solution will be used to extract gold from crushed rock. Once mixed with water, the cyanide will enter a closed system, with pH controlled by the addition of lime to prevent the formation of hydrogen cyanide gas. Leak detection equipment and gaseous cyanide detectors will be in place, and routine monitoring of air and groundwater quality will be undertaken around the HLF to confirm that no cyanide is leaking into the environment. For more on these and other questions visit here.

Through its commitment to international best practices, Amulsar presents a unique opportunity for Armenia. As one of the largest private sector investments in the country’s history, Amulsar will generate hundreds of local employment opportunities, significant supply chain opportunities and taxes to boost the Armenian economy, while applying internationally recognised benchmarks to the management of environmental and social risks.

We strongly believe that our project breaks new ground in Armenia in its adherence to widely-supported and authoritative international environmental and social standards and will create significant benefits for the country, local communities, the workforce and investors.

 

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