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US Ambassador John Heffern on Amulsar

In an interview to 168.am US Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern has answered a question on Lydian International and Amulsar project.

Talking about western investments, can you please talk about Geoteam’s Amulsar project which is owed by Lydian International? You, as well as the UK ambassador welcomed this project and got criticism from the environmentalists. On the other hand you also support the environmental efforts.
So is it possible to have balance between mining and environmental protection?

Thank you for this question, because the idea of the balance is the right approach. And we work closely with civil societies and NGOs and all sectors, including the environmental sector. We welcome their energy and we welcome their activism to improve mining practices and other practices in Armenia that are detrimental to the environment. We are committed to that and we will continue to work with them. But that doesn’t mean that all mining is bad. Armenia depends on mining as for major part of its economy and major part of its employment. The question is how do you do the mining right? How do you do mining based on the international  best standards. The reason we are supporting the Lydian company is that this company is funded by EBRD and IFC which impose international standards. When  a company be it a mine or whatever kind of company it is, borrows money from one of these international financial institutions, there are requirements that they follow international best practices. And you can do mining right. There are many mines in the United States, in Australia and so on. Our goal here is to promote mining done in the right way based on international best practices. The other half of this is that Amulsar is very rich in gold and it will bring major economic benefits to the region and to the country. It is important for mining companies to not only pay their taxes but work with local communities, ministries to find a way to bring benefits to the people.

Do you think that Geoteam can do the mining “right” as you have mentioned?

Yes I think it does. I visited the mine, I talked to the mayors of the three communities in the neighbourhood. They strongly support the mine and they work closely with the company. The preliminary work has been done, laboratory work has been done in the village, instead of somewhere else. For exact purpose: bringing jobs to the local communities. Do I think they will do it right? Yes I do. And I do think it will be the best practice and I hope it will have an impact on other mines.

Full article will be available soon.

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