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“We have been looking for mythic evils in gold for already two years instead of just mining it”

Hayk Aloyan's interview with

– What is the situation at Amulsar? It is widely rumored that the Government is resolved to allow [mining at] Amulsar?

– Well, there is some delusive opinion that Lydian’s right to operate is yet to be determined or specified. I’d like to make it clear that there is nothing to resolve from the perspective of the law.   Lydian has all the necessary licenses and permits, and these permits have not been cancelled legally. The only reason why Lydian has not been operating for the last two years is the illegally blocked roads and the failure of the law-enforcement to act.  In this light, the latest developments suggest that the Police still fail to carry out their duties. Nothing has changed in this sense, at least at this moment, unless trespassers are removed from Lydian’s private territory.

– Lydian’s former employees, some community residents supporting the Project conducted a number of campaigns during the last few days, claiming that most of the community residents come out in support of mining at Amulsar.  At the same time, “Amulsar defenders” insist that most of the community residents are against operation of the mine.  The situation on access roads to Amulsar grows tense from time to time. If, as you said, people in the communities mostly support the Project, and the only obstacle is blockage of the roads, why don’t your supporters in the communities reopen the roads?

– Do you believe that gladiator fights or battles of villagers armed with pitchforks should decide which company has a right to work in the country and which one hasn’t? 

– I don’t think so, but if, in your words, the Government fails to act, what were you waiting for? 

– We were not waiting. As a law-abiding company we anticipated an enforcement of the law. Unfortunately, these two years showed that the endless and numerous expert assessments/audits, which, for the record, do not justify the unlawful blockage of the roads, were just opportunities to endlessly delay with the resolution of the situation. There is no environmental issue here, it has grown into a political issue, and the entire world follows the situation in Armenia, where the most environmentally-sound mining investment project has become hostage to political games.

– Speaking of which, why hasn’t Lydian launched arbitration proceedings? 

- I would divide the answer to this into three parts: First, even a small investor tries to establish a sustainable business instead of launching proceedings that will last for years. So, in case of about 400 million dollars investment, the investor hopes that the issue will be resolved. Second, Lydian will initiate arbitration proceedings, if there is no other way out of the situation, and will win, and I have no desire to comment on the absurd statements that it [Lydian] can’t win. Third, if Lydian launches arbitration proceedings, it will be an irreversible process, and neither the government nor the opponents will gain from it. That process will take years, during which and then for many years to come, Armenia will be a black spot on the investment map. I don’t want Armenia to turn into a third world country. Unlike me, all those, who intentionally or involuntarily force Lydian to make that step, want that or will eventually face that.

-What are you doing now? Are you conducting any works on Site?

– For the time being, the communities are in an extremely poor situation. Lydian feels responsibility for these communities. We try to employ people, resume some social programs. We are conducting inventory and repairs currently. We plan to involve as much labor force from local communities into service works as possible. During these years, part of our experts, employees have migrated. We are going to refresh our database to figure out the situation with potential labor force in the communities.

– The [Project] opponents set environmental issues against social and economic ones, don’t they?

-Amulsar is the only mining project in the country to have environmental design that passed international audit, and this speaks for itself. Environmental concerns associated with Amulsar are at the level of 5G and microchip conspiracies associated with coronavirus. The last few months proved that there are “experts” in every kind of absurd theories. So, let me not speak about such absurdities. Meantime, the reality is clear. This year, Russia received more incomes from gold mines rather than from oil exports for the first time during the last several decades, due to the unprecedented high gold price.  Meanwhile, we have been sitting on 70 tons of gold in the region’s best gold mine and looking for mythic evils in it for two years already instead of just mining it. All while our enemy is shooting at our border from weapons bought for oil.  Our people should finally decide if we should bury a several-billion-strong resource and the country’s investment reputation without any substantial reason or do the right things and do not repeat our historical mistakes.