Two Companies - One Name: Inefficient Attempts to Get Gladzor Mining Permit

Two Companies - One Name: Inefficient Attempts to Get Gladzor Mining Permit

Gladzor Community in Vayots Dzor Region has been fighting against mining for about five years, trying to protect its right to a clean environment.

The attitude of the residents has not changed during these years. The locals are convinced that in case of Gladzor polymetallic mining, there is a danger posing to irrigation and drinking water.

"If they drill, where should all this go?… Our drinking water comes under the mine mountain, whereas the irrigation water goes and mixes with the big rivers. As a result, not only our village will be polluted, the Kechut reservoir will also be polluted," they said.

The first geological exploration works in Gladzor mine were carried out in the 20s of the last century and resumed in 1950-1964. However, the mine was not developed.

 In 2007- 2009, “Vayk Resource” LLC carried out prospecting in the mine. Accordingly, the proven reserves of ore in 2009 amounted to 14474.0 thousand tons, where the amount of gold amounted to 9789.1 kg (0.68 g/t).

Then “Vayk Metal” LLC had ambitions to develop the mine. In 2016, the company submitted an application to RA Ministry of Nature Protection for the operation of Gladzor polymetallic mine. However, the ministry issued a negative expert opinion to that application. Among other reasons, the negative conclusion was based on the negative attitude of the local population.

In 2017, by the decree of RA Minister of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources, the granting of the right to Gladzor polymetallic mining to "Vayk Metal" LLC was rejected. The company has filed a lawsuit to the court demanding to invalidate the negative conclusion of RA Ministry of Nature Protection and the refusal of RA Ministry of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources to obtain soil management right for the extraction of Gladzor polymetallic mine.

 However, the company did not benefit from this lawsuit, as it turned out that the environmental expert opinion was not an administrative act, it is evidence, so it cannot be disputed in court, and the Ministry of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources instigated administrative proceedings to enforce the court decision, nevertheless, the provision of soil management right to the company was rejected within the frameworks of the proceedings.

"Vayk Metal" company also filed a lawsuit against Gladzor Enlarged Community Head Armen Movsisyan demanding that the court oblige him to allocate land from the community lands to "Vayk Metal" LLC, to sign a land use contract, so that the company, under the contract signed with RA Ministry of Energy Infrastructure and Natural Resources, conduct prospecting in the area of ​​Gladzor mine. The company's lawsuit was upheld by Vayk court verdict on 16.05.2017 demanding not to hinder the Company's geological exploration activities in Gladzor community. Armen Movsisyan appealed against this ruling of Court of First Instance of Ararat and Vayots Dzor Regions.

“Vayk Metal” applied to Law Enforcement Service to enforce the court ruling. The law enforcement officer decided to oblige Gladzor Community Head to allocate land areas. However, Nazeli Vardanyan managed to get the Administrative Court to declare the decision of law enforcement officer as invalid. “Vayk Metal” appealed the decision to the Administrative Court of Appeal.

Gladzor enlarged community confirmed its position against the mining industry with the decision reached by Aldermen’s Council on April 29, 2019, which approved the proposal mentioned in the collective petition filed the residents “On Making Gladzor Community an Eco-economic Area and Banning Metallic Mining in Community” submitted to Community Head and Aldermen’s Council.

While "Vayk Metal" is in litigation, another company, "Metal Gold" LLC, is established on the initiative of the same administration of the company. According to the Hetq, the founder and sole shareholder of “Vayk Metal’ LLC is Arthur Ter-Simonyan, Simon Ter-Simonyan’s son, Former Head of RA Government's Credit and Humanitarian Aid Department and Chairman of Government's Charity Programs Coordination Committee. Arthur Ter-Simonyan is also the founding shareholder and director of "Metal Gold" LLC.

In February 2021, RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure granted “Metal Gold” a 3-year industrial geological prospecting permit. "Metal Gold" planned to hold a public hearing in order to get permission from Gladzor Community.

On May 11, 2021, the residents of Gladzor community did not allow public hearings. "We understand that the subsoil is the exclusive property of the state, but the land on it is ours. If our Aldermen’s Council does not allow us to do work, then they cannot touch the upper layer," the residents said. It should be noted that "Environmental Impact Expert Assessment Center" SNCO of RA Ministry of Environment informed that "Metal Gold" company did not apply for expert assessment.

As an alternative to mining, locals see the development of their community in agriculture, winemaking and tourism. According to them, viticulture and gardening are promising. Insufficient irrigation water is pressing in the community. Gladzor Community Head Armen Movsisyan told EcoLur that a reservoir construction program is being discussed in the area called Korek Dzor. "If this program is implemented, 800-900 hectares will be irrigated in Malishka, Vernashen and Gladzor," he said. Gladzor residents also mentioned that there is a need to assess the potential of the community, which should be done by the relevant institutions.


This material has been prepared within “Liability of Non-operating Mining Companies in EITI Process” project impletmened by EcoLur with the USAID support within the frames of “Engaged Citizenry for Responsible Governance” project implemented by Transparency International Anticorruption Center.

This article is made possible by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

June 16, 2021 at 17:31