Public Hearing Did Not Take Place. What Is Happening in Gladzor?

Public Hearing Did Not Take Place. What Is Happening in Gladzor?

The public hearings scheduled for October 5, 2021 in Gladzor community did not take place. “Metal Gold” was to hold another hearing on geological prospecting in Gladzor gold-polymetallic mine.

The meeting started in a tense atmosphere with the participation of the residents supporting and opposing the mine, the mining company, local authorities, and civil society representatives. Many residents demanded the cancellation of the hearings. Despite the fact that the announcement about the public hearings was posted on the official website of Gladzor Municipality, Community Head Armen Movsisyan stated that what is happening in Gladzor is not a public hearing, but a meeting with the population.

Armen Movsisyan did not answer the question of the citizens whether the announcement of the municipality had a different content and the reason why the community head was changing the previously approved format.

In her conversation with EcoLur, Nazeli Vardanyan, Director of “Forests of Armenia” NGO, commented that if the October 5 meeting was recorded as a public hearing, it would contradict the two previous decisions of Gladzor Aldermen’s Council.

"In 2016, Gladzor Aldermen’s Council reached a decision which says there should be no mine in the territory of their community, so the company was not allocated any land. The community was aware that the operation of the mine in their area would cause damage to the population, their health, and environmental damage. In 2019, more than 2,000 residents of Gladzor enlarged community signed a petition, which says that Gladzor Community was recognized as an eco-economic area, where metal mining is prohibited. Aldermen’s Council approved the petition. If we have hearings and discuss issues here, we are questioning the two decisions reached by Aldermen’s Council of this same community. Whatever decision was made here, it would be illegal, because those two decisions were not annulled," Nazeli Vardanyan said.

Under her, "Metal Gold" submitted two letters to Gladzor Community Head. The first letter says that he was given a office (documentation) study permit under the contract. At the same time, the company insists that it needs to check supplies and conditions on the spot in Gladzor area. However, the company submitted a preliminary mining application attached to that letter. Preliminary mining is not envisaged by RA legislation; thus, the company intends to conduct mining under the guise of research bypassing the requirements of RA legislation.

It should be noted that the reserves of gold, silver and other metals in the EIA of Gladzor gold-polymetallic mine were already estimated in 2016 and 2021. "If the company is mining, it must submit an application to TAI, from where the application will be sent to the Ministry of Environment, and the latter must post the application on its website, then decide who the affected communities are, and then organize a hearing," Nazeli Vardanyan said.

Photo Credit: Tehmine Yenoqyan

October 11, 2021 at 09:18