19 residents of Jermuk Resort Town and Gndevaz Village have sued RA Nature Protection Minister Erik Grigoryan. The plaintiffs are demanding from court to obligate him to annul the positive opinion № ԲՓ 35 issued to the amended project of Amulsar gold-bearing quartzite mining and RA Nature Protection Minister's approval dated on 29.04.2016.
As the representative of the plaintiffs Barrister Nazeli Vardanyan told EcoLur in her interview, the court had admitted the claim into proceedings and the first court hearing is appointed on 4 February 2019.
The claim present new factors about Amulsar project, which shall serve as a basis to annul the expert opinion issued to this project.
As a new factor mentioned in the claim, '...Four international experts have stated that the environmental impact assessment of Amulsar gold mine has been carried out in an incomplete manner, the presence of acidic drainage hasn't been assessed and no measures have been planned to prevent it...The conclusions of the experts are a new circumstance and in case of their presence the positive opinion issued to Amulsar project and Minister's approval can't work and must be annulled.
...The circumstances mentioned in the report by the IFC CAO dated on 19 June 2017 are also new circumstances. Particularly, the IFC CAO finds that, that IFC does not have assurance that potential impacts on Jermuk’s brand as a tourist center, for example, those from blasting, visual disturbance, and more general perceptions that arise from the mine's proximity to the town have been assessed and mitigated in accordance with the requirements of PS1.
Besides, it says, 'IFC observed in 2013 that the client’s exploration activities had negatively impacted tier one critical habitat for the population of a critically endangered plant, Potentilla porphyrantha.'
New factors have also been presented in the WWF Armenia's professional opinion dated on 12 May 2017 entitled 'On Biodiversity and Biodiversity Offsetting in Amulsar Gold Project EIA and Its Appendixes'. Particularly it says, ' there are red-listed plant and animal species in Amulsar mine area. The operation of the open mine and adjacent structures will lead to the loss of the habitats of these species or at least their deterioration or inevitably reduce their numbers, which is a gross violation of RA Code on Subsoil, RA Laws on Flora and Fauna, as well as Conventions on Biological Diversity and Flora and Fauna.
Nazeli Vardanyan noted all these factors haven't been assessed and can cause significant and irreversible damage to the health of the population, including that of her clients and the environment. For this reason, before calling upon court she sent a letter to RA Nature Protection Minister with a request to annul the positive opinion of 'Environmental Impact Expert Assessment' SNCO dated on 29.04.2016. 'I have received a letter from Staff Head of RA Nature Protection Ministry № 5/32/51339 dated on 09.07.2018, which I received on 13.07.2018, which says that my letter will be replied in 30 days, i.e. by 04.08.2018. Nevertheless, so far RA Nature Protection Minister hasn't replied to my letter,' Nazeli Vardanyan said.
19:08 November 29, 2018