‘Alaverdi Copper Smelting Plant hasn’t been closed by the Armenian Government, but “ACP” Company has stopped the operation of the plant. The government as represented by Inspection Body posed its demands either to pay or not to emit. In this situation, both the local population and the government are subject to manipulations. It’s like blackmailing which shouldn’t be acknowledged. We should realize how much profit the company has made during these years and what sums should be paid to the state according to our laws,” “EcoLur” Informational NGO President Inga Zarafyan said at the press conference held at “Henaran” Press Club on 22 October.
““ACP” company, a part of Vallex Group, stopped the operation of Alaverdi Copper Smelting Plant on 19 October 2018. The company is demanding privileges from the government – increase in emissions, cancellation of fines etc. Inga Zarafyan reminded that both Alaverdi Copper Smelting Plant and the property of “Teghout” CJSC owned by Vallex are now pledged in the Russian VTB Bank and the bank may sell it to a new owner. “The situation is critical, even we can say that’s disastrous. It’s evident that no one has a ready-made solution – neither the company, nor the government, nor the VTB Bank. A question arises: whether in the process of “Property Vs Debt” the bank is ready to undertake the social and environmental obligations,” Inga Zarafyan said and added, “Since 2013 the Nature Protection Ministry has approved annual emissions of around 28,000 tons of sulfur dioxide.
When these emissions are released and mixed with the water, around 42,000 tons of sulfuric acid is formed. Every year people breathe in this amount of toxic emissions. The company is demanding to emit the same amount without paying any additional amount, but from 2013 to 2017 they had an obligation to decrease the amount of the emissions to the standards. No measure has been taken, except for shifting the chimney to a higher point. If in the past only Alaverdi was exposed to emission, not it intoxicates a larger area. Even Haghpat, which has a high flow of tourists, is exposed to emissions.”
Zarafyan noted that “EcoLur” Informational NGO has opened a letter to Armenian Deputy PM Tigran Avinyan on Alaverdi Copper Smelting and Teghout Project so as the government demands from Vallex Group to submit environmental and social audit, except for financial audit. “We shall, eventually, understand the size of the real damage. A working group should be established with the involvement of all stakeholders, including the local population. The government’s intervention is required in this regard. Without it, the government won’t undertake any obligation and won’t make any investment,” Inga Zarafyan said. Chair of “Association for Sustainable Human Development” Karine Danielyan thinks the problem can be solved; just power of will is needed here. “There are new technologies, simply they are expensive. In this case, the profit made by the company is drastically reduced, but the problem is solved.” Karine Danielyan noted that alternative economic development areas should be found in Alaverdi, “Both the closedown and complaining are correct. When environmental, social and economic problems are in a conflict, it’s very bad both the population and the country. In all cases, the social problems of the people must be solved, while in parallel, job opportunities should be created for people, alternative options should be found and only afterward the plant should be closed down. It’s evident that Lori needs alternative economic development.”
13:59 October 23, 2018