“EcoLur” Informational NGO has submitted an opinion on rejecting Shekaghbyur gold-polymetallic mine project to “Center for Environmental Impact Expert Assessment” SNCO of RA Nature Protection Ministry. EcoLur’s opinion says, “On 1 December 2017 “EcoLur” Informational NGO took part in the protest demonstration against the second public hearings of Shekaghbyur gold-polymetallic mine project organized by Miram Company in Mghart Village, Lori Region. The residents of Ardvi, Mghart, Odzun, Aygehat, Arevatsag residential areas included in Odzun Community expressed their negative opinions on Shekaghbyur Project.
Miram Company submitted minutes with the positive opinion and a recording to RA Nature Protection Ministry on the discussions held in Mghart Village on 4 October 2017, based on which the second public hearings have been appointed. Nevertheless, the appointment of the second public hearings contradicts the requirements of RA Law “On Environmental Impact Expert Assessment and Expertise” for the following reasons:
Mghart residents haven’t been informed about holding the first public hearings in Mghart Village and a narrow range of participants took part in this discussion, who are Miram Company’s supporters headed by Mghart Community Head Yervand Navasardyan. That is, the main objective of the first public hearings – to get the residents of the affected community familiar with the project, which underlies RA Law “On Environmental Impact Expert Assessment and Expertise”, hasn’t been implemented.
Even from the first Shekaghbyur project, which was sent for amendment and supplementing, the experts of “Center for Environmental Impact Expert Assessment” SNCO of RA Nature Protection Ministry knew that even in case of territory reduction Ardvi Village is anyway located in the impacted zone, as the water springs supplying water to Ardvi are located in Shekaghbyur mine area. Nevertheless, Miram Company hadn't organized any public hearings on the new project in Ardvi, while Ardvi residents' opinion was missing in the decision-making process on holding the second public hearings.
On 5 November 2017, Mghart and Ardvi Communities were included in Odzun Community in the frames of community optimization process. In line with RA Law “On Environmental Impact Expert Assessment and Expertise”, the community is located in the project-impacted zone and not individual residential areas. The law doesn't have 'residential area' definition. Nevertheless, Miram Company hasn't organized the first public hearings in Odzun Community, Odzun residents haven't been informed about Shekaghbyur project, which bears risks not only for an individual residential area but for the whole community.
Therefore, when appointing the second public hearings, “Center for Environmental Impact Expert Assessment” SNCO of RA Nature Protection Ministry didn't pay attention to the fact that the documentation package of Miram Company is incomplete and the opinions of the residents of Odzun project-impacted community are missing, as Mghart community doesn't exist anymore and that the missing of a more vulnerable village, that of Ardvi Village, is also missing.
Thus, the main requirement of RA Law “On Environmental Impact Expert Assessment and Expertise” has been violated: 'Assessment and expertise vest on the human right to live and act in an environment favourable for health and good living.'
At the protest demonstration held on 1 December, the representatives of RA Nature Protection Ministry had an opportunity to get convinced that all the interested residents of optimized Odzun community took part and expressed their negative opinions on Shekaghbyur project in the form of a complaint, which was confirmed in the minutes signed by Odzun Community Head Arsen Titanyan.
“EcoLur” Informational NGO thinks that the discussion appointed on 1 December 2017 in Mghart Village should be considered the first public hearing and not the second one. Based on the negative opinions of the residents, “Center for Environmental Impact Expert Assessment” SNCO of RA Nature Protection Ministry should reject the project submitted by Miram Company on conducting geological prospecting in Shekaghbyur gold-polymetallic minefield, Lori Region, for 2017-2020.
18:12 December 05, 2017