In the last few weeks, applications to Environment Ministry or local self-government bodies for geological exploration in Armenia have intensified. This activity is especially noticeable in Lori Region, which is overloaded with mining infrastructure.
This activity is especially noticeable in Lori Region, which is overloaded with mining infrastructure. In particular, the residents of Margahovit, Debet, Yeghegnut, Vahagn amd Vahagnadzor communities have recently unanimously opposed the conduct of geological prospecting in Hanqadzor mineral ore. Public hearings are planned to carry out for geological prospecting at Urut mineral field site (polymetallic) in Stepanavan mining area.
"We do not have clear mechanisms to protect citizens at the state level, a clear policy to mitigate the damage caused to citizens, mechanisms to protect their health right to compensation for the damage caused, but we are thinking of new mines," Oleg Dulgaryan said, President of “Community Mobilization and Support Center” NGO at the discussion entitled "New Mine in Lori: Forests in Region are Endangered” held at “Article 3” Club on 7 May.
"If we do not have these mechanisms to assess the impact on the environment, assess human health, compensation or insurance, we should forget about establishing new mining centers," Oleg Dulgaryan said.
In response, Narine Hakobyan, a leading specialist in Department of Lands and Subsoil Policy at Environment Ministry, mentioned that there are mechanisms, but it is necessary to make the existing ones applicable, to think of new ones. All the issues raised are worrying, but at the moment the toolkit of the ministry has applied the most sustainable development possible, providing new technologies for the newly opened mines. “In Armenia, we cannot take and close the mining industry in one fell swoop, saying that it harms the environment. We need to work out mechanisms to mitigate and eliminate as much as possible the effects of previously inherited tailings dumps and landfill sites, as well as to reduce the potential impact of newly opened mines," she said. Responding to the response of the ministry representative, Oleg Dulgaryan mentioned that if there are mechanisms, they are written, but they are not used, then they do not exist. "There must be reforms in the legislation," he stressed out.
Pointing out the gaps in holding public hearings, Gayane Markosyan, former Lori Deputy Regional Head, said that the residents are involved in them, on the one hand, and the company, on the other hand. "There is no other official from the state system to act as a third party. A professional approach is needed. Pre-arranged people participate, whose opinion often does not reflect the opinion of the whole community. The villager can often not imagine the dangers," she said.
In his turn, Oleg Dulgaryan said that the residents of the community are not properly informed about the hearings, it is held among the people who are in daily contact with the community heads. "There is no real awareness. Specialists come, present some projects, speak in a professional language, it is not so accessible to ordinary villagers," he said. Dulgaryan also informed that about 70 citizens affected by the mining industry have applied to the court to compensate the damage caused to their health and economy.
May 11, 2021 at 10:40