Meghradzor: Traces of Meghradzor Mining

Meghradzor: Traces of Meghradzor Mining

Meghradzor gold mine is located in Meghradzor settlement of Tsaghkadzor consolidated community in Kotayk Region. In 2012, it was operated by "Meghradzor Gold" LLC, during which a gold enrichment factory with its tailing dump was built.

Photo Credit: Martin Marek

Photo Credit: Nikola Jelinek

The company's soil management permit expired in September 2022. Back in October 2021, the company submitted a new environmental impact assessment report to the Ministry of Environment in order to extend the 1 7.2-year mineral lease of the Meghradzor gold mine. On July 27, 2022, the Ministry issued a negative conclusion to the company's EIA.

The main minerals contained in the mine are gold, silver, and accompanying elements are tellurium, bismuth, selenium, zinc, arsenic and rhenium.

During 10-year-long operation of the mine, the resort settlements of Meghradzor, Aghavnadzor, Artavaz, Gorgoch, Hanqavan, Marmarik and Pyunik of consolidated community in Tsaghkadzor, which are located 2.5-18 km away from the mine, were negatively affected. The settlement of Meghradzor is considered the most influential.

In Meghradzor, the Marmarik River and its Gomur tributary, where mine waters are discharged, are under the impact of mining.

The Marmarik river has the highest pollution, 5th class, the pollutant is manganese. According to the year-end data for 2020 presented by "Hydrometereological Monitoring Center" SNCO of RA Environment Ministry, the river in the Marmarik estuary was polluted with vanadium, iron, barium and potassium. After mechanical cleaning, the water of the mine transport ways flows into the Gomur River. Depending on the concentration of the material, the river is again of class 5 quality.

Another environmental pollutant is dust. The dust from the mine and tailing dump is spread by the winds towards the settlements, the local residents speak out about health problems linking them to the impact of the mine. The company also carried out weekly monitoring of the availability of dust in the atmospheric air of the mine area, as a result of which the amount of dust in the samples taken from the villages of Meghradzor and Gorgoch made up 0.08-0.17 mg/m2.

Harmful emissions also occur as a result of mine operations. In its EIA report, the company stated that around 5 tons of harmful substances are emitted into the atmosphere annually, out of which 1.33 tons during blasting, and 3.246 tons during operation.

The environment is also negatively affected by the wastes of the 3rd and 4th hazard classes arising from the operation of the mine. In general, the volume of generated waste makes up about 35 tons per year.

The conformity of the data provided by the company on environmental pollution to the reality will be possible to verify as a result of the studies conducted by Czech NGO “Arnika” together with “Center for Community Mobilization and Support” NGO and “EcoLur” Informational NGO regarding chemical pollution of territories in the settlement of Meghradzor, Kotayk Region, in order to find out the impact of Meghradzor gold mine on the environment and the health of local residents. In September 2022, specialists took samples from dumps adjacent to the mine, soils, gardens, as well as hair and urine samples from residents. The samples will be tested in a certified laboratory in Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic, after the analysis of the test samples in the laboratory in the Czech Republic, the true picture of the damages caused to Meghradzor and the local residents as a result of the activities of "Meghradzor Gold" LLC will become clear.

The study is carried out within the framework of "Participation of civil society in the protection of chemical safety in Armenia" project with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic.

October 26, 2022 at 16:25