Proposals by Civil Society Before Developing Mining Sector Development Strategy

Proposals by Civil Society Before Developing Mining Sector Development Strategy

On December 15, 2021, Responsible Mining Policy Forum was held in Yerevan, where the representatives of the civil society presented the problems in the field of soil management and the proposals for their solution.

Welcoming remarks were made by RA Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure Hovhannes Harutyunyan, Julie Pekowski, USAID Armenia Acting Program Officer, and Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center (TIAC) ​​Executive Director Sona Ayvazyan.

Lusine Tovmasyan, Head of the Armenian Secretariat of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), presented the progress related to Responsible Mining within the framework of the EITI. The representative of "Grant Thornton Consulting" CJSC Naira Derdzyan presented the main directions of the mining strategy in Armenia.

The next part of the forum was dedicated to the discussion of the key issues of the soil management policy of the affected communities and their inhabitants. Victoria Burnazyan, Vice President of EcoLur Informational NGO, Oleg Dulgaryan, President of Center for Community Consolidation and Support, Samvel Siradeghyan, a Tchtochkan resident from Akhtala Enlarged Community, Alen Amirkhanyan, Head of the Center for Responsible Mining at the American University of Armenia, Center Officers Alexander Arakelyan and Kristine Sahakyan, Anahit Simonyan - Representative of the Center for Human Rights Research, Expert Arthur Grigoryan and Education, Science, Culture and Sports Ministry representative Boris Gasparyan.

During the forum, a discussion took place on the process of developing Armenia's mining strategy, which we will present next.

Victoria Burnazyan presented the issues and proposals identified for the development of the mining sector within the framework of "Mining Affected Communities - Full Participants in the EITI Process" and "Liability of Non-Operating Mining Companies in EITI Process" projects implemented by "EcoLur" Informational NGO.

Those suggestions are as follows:

·       To study or, based on the credible results of existing studies, propose solutions for cleaning up soils and rivers that have been chemically contaminated by mining.

·       Develop a methodology for determining the affected community, which will enable an objective assessment of the negative impact of the mining organization on the settlements.

·       Environmental taxes are not commensurate with the amount of damage caused by chemical pollution; the tax revenue is not intended to eliminate or offset the damage. To study the international experience in this field, including the methodology of assessing the cumulative impacts of several mining facilities on the same community, to make relevant amendments in the current legislation of the Republic of Armenia.

·       To envisage relevant legislative amendments on the prevention of the negative impact of the mining industry on the environment, human health, the elimination of existing environmental problems, and the establishment of strict responsibility.

·       To study "Epidemiological assessment of the risk of environmental impact on the health of the population" methodology developed by RA Health Ministry, which Health Ministry has submitted to the World Health Organization for an opinion since 2019, to evaluate and plan its application.

·       In order to periodically study, analyze and propose solutions for the pollution of the mining areas, to ensure the re-equipment of the scientific equipment of the chemical laboratories of the state bodies, to organize regular trainings and retraining courses for their specialists.

·       Provide provisions for the introduction of social and environmental insurance and damage compensation systems for the residents of communities affected by the mining industry.

·       In case the right of soil management is terminated by the state, envisage mechanisms obliging the soil manager to restore the violated lands, reclaim the tailing dumps, provide solutions for the return of lands leased or bought by the soil manager from the community.

·       To study 23 tailing dumps of Armenia from the technical safety and ecological viewpoint, to identify the problems and offer solutions.

·       It is mandatory to include in the soil management agreements obligations for the socio-economic development of the communities in accordance with the needs of the communities, to stipulate a provision for concluding a soil management agreement with RA Authorized Body-mining organization-affected community in triplicate format.

·       To carry out EIA examination based on the results of field studies, include in the conclusion of the examination the results of health, technical safety, sanitary-epidemiological examinations, economic benefit of mining projects, economic damage analysis.

·       To consider the introduction of an accountability mechanism by the soil manager to be accountable to the population of the community on an annual basis.

·       In the event of economic damage to the mining project, provide compensation to that state or community.

·       To consider mechanisms for combining the economic benefits of a mining project with natural ecosystems, harm to human health, and assessing the feasibility of the project.

·       To study the impact of mining on climate change, considering large-scale deforestation and inadequate and inefficient reforestation, use of water resources, pollution of water resources in the event of leaks and accidents, and consequently drying of vegetation.

·       To examine international best practices for how much money companies spend on environmental protection, which can realistically cover the cost of closing a mine or rehabilitating a tailing dump.

·       To provide measures for conservation of abandoned mines, landfill sites and tailing dumps.

·       To avoid double standards for restrictions on old and new mines.

·       To stipulate provisions for the complete exploitation of minerals from the mine, excluding only the exploitation of rich mine fields by companies (for example, in the case of Kavart mine).

·       To envisage maximum recovery of all useful metals from ore, not just one or two metals, and dump the others as landfill sites.

·       To envisage obtaining final outcome from the ore in Armenia.

·       In case of export of concentrates, to publicize the concentration of the concentrate.

·       To stipulate processing of the tails in the tailing dumps.

·       To stipulate annual state control mechanisms and make the amount of fines and penalties commensurate with the damage in case of detected violations.

The forum was organized by Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center within the frameworks of “Engaged Citizenry for Responsible Governance” project.

December 16, 2021 at 18:14