Expert Assessment of Tailing Dump Safety Carried out Only Through Documents

Expert Assessment of Tailing Dump Safety Carried out Only Through Documents


The tailings dumps of Armenia, which are considered as hazardous industrial facilities, have only undergone technical safety expert assessment and have received a positive conclusion. In response to EcoLur's enquiry, the Ministry of Emergency Situations provided an expert opinion on the technical safety of 8 tailings dumps. Accordingly, Teghout” tailings dump of  “Teghout” LLC and “Ararat” tailings dump of “GeoProMining” LLC in 2019, as well as “Artsvanik” and “Dara-Jam” of Zangezur  CMC CJSC, “Hovit-2” tailing dumps of “Agarak CMC” CJSC, “Pahesti Dzor” tailings dump of Akhtala ODC CJSC in 2018, Geghanush”  Kapan CJSC in 2016 and Melik Village tailings dump of Mego Gold LLC in 2010.

EcoLur asked the ministry for information about the 14 tailings dumps. According to the ministry's response, there are no records on the register of hazardous production facilities on Armanis tailing dump, and there was no information on the Nazik tailing dump of Akhtala ODP as it has been conserved. The ministry also did not provide information on the fullness of tailings dumpstheir surfaces, landslides, risk levels of floods and other natural disasterand tailings dam marks. There was no technical safety expert assessments provided on "Nahatak" tailing dump of “Akhtala ODC” CJSC, the second, third tailing dumps of "Mego Gold" LLC, as well as "Dava Zami" and "Hovit-1" tailing dumps of Agarak CMC CJSC.

There are 13 tailing dumps operating in Armenia. Tailings are subject to technical safety expert assessment at least once a year on the initiative of mining enterprises pursuant to Article 11, Part 6 of RA Law “OState Regulation of Ensuring Technical Safety”.

“National Technical Safety Center” SNCO of Ministry of Emergency Situations does not carry out testing of hazardous production facilities during the examination process, as a result, the real problems of tailings stability and safety are still pending and positive results of RA National Center for Technical Safety SNCO do not guarantee the safety of the tailings dumps.

We present data on tailings dumps that have received a positive opinion of the technical safety expert assessment but have real safety problems. In 2016, after receiving a positive opinion of the technical safety expert assessment, Geghanush tailing dump operator, Chaarat Kapan, submitted an environmental expert assessment application for the Geghanush tailing dump reliability and safety increase in 2018.

According to the enquiry, the stability of the northern dam of the tailings dump is not guaranteed in the event of a maximum earthquake. The Ministry of Nature Protection of Armenia has given a technical task to “Chaarat Kapan” company regarding their project. A new tailing dump project has not yet been submitted to environmental expert assessment.

Teghut tailing dump received a positive conclusion on technical safety expert assessment on July 7, 2019. Whereas Teghout tailings dump problems are mentioned in the EIA for 2017 “On Expansion of Teghout Copper and Molybdenum Combine up to 15 mln tons per year”. Vallex Group, which operated the Teghut tailing dump until 2018, officially confirmed several times in 2018 and 2019 that the tailing dump stability indicators do not comply with international standards.
In August 2019, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of the Republic of Armenia disseminated information according to which Teghout CJSC has signed a contract with a Bulgarian company for the implementation of research activities necessary to study the stability of Teghut tailings dam.

Reclamation works of "Nahatak" tailing dump of "Akhtala ODC" CJSC should start on October 1, 2018 and end in February 2020, according to positive environmental opinion to” Environmental Impact Assessment of 500,000 Thousands per Year Productivity of Re-equipment of Shmlukh Mine of Akhtala ODC” on 17.09.2018. However, these works have not begun so far, but the plant continues to fill the tails into te tailings dump raising the tailings dam. 

"MEGO-GOLD" LLC has not operated the Tukhmanuk gold mine for about 10 years. Meanwhile, the company's three tailings dumps are full, according to "Ore Dressing Plant Re-equipment, Tailings Dam and Temporary Storage Deposits Project of Tukhmanuk Gold Mining Complex" report submitted for environmental expert assessment. “In January-February 2014, there was a collapse of the inner high wall of the large tailing dump, which necessitated rebuilding and strengthening the tailing dump body,” the statement said. However, no work was done to ensure the safety of the tailings dams.

“All major tailings dams in Armenia are constructed in accordance with the upstream raise design. This is an inappropriate design, and not in line with international good practice in seismically active as they are prone to failure during earthquakes. This issue is made more serious by the fact that some large tailings impoundments are situated nearby downstream communities. Risk assessments of all major dams are therefore needed, and appropriate actions need to be taken (e.g. redesign, or strengthening of facilities). Furthermore, there is a need to establish plans of how to manage and mitigate residual risks. Such plans should include emergency planning for nearby communities.” Armenia - Strategic mineral sector sustainability assessment report compiled in 2016 says.

September 26, 2019 at 18:04