New Report by CEE Bankwatch Network Covers Amulsar

New Report by CEE Bankwatch Network Covers Amulsar

CEE Bankwatch Network has published a new report on Europe’s Green Deal warning that the European Green Deal’s push for raw materials should not come at the expense of workers, local communities and nature. One of the cases covered in the report is Amulsar gold-bearing quartzite mining project in Armenia.

Europe’s Green Deal is aimed at promoting the efficient use of natural resources, moving to a clean, circular economy, restoring biodiversity and reducing pollution. It also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve sustainable development goals.

The press release disseminated on CEE Bankwatch Network report entitled “Raw Deal: Does the new EU development model mean more of the same destructive mining?” says that the European Green Deal plans to increase mining raw materials to meet demand for clean energy, renewables, and other hi-tech solutions at the forefront of the EU’s green development agenda.

“The European Commission has outlined extensive plans for securing access to ICT-related raw materials but mentions little about effectively dealing with risks associated with their extraction. For instance the EU estimates that for electric vehicle batteries and energy storage, it would need up to 18 times more lithium and five times more cobalt in 2030, and almost 60 times more lithium and 15 times more cobalt in 2050,” the CEE Bankwatch Network says. 

“The Bankwatch report describes cases of environmental destruction, poor working conditions and a lack of sufficient public participation during the planning and implementation of metal mining and smelting operations, often backed by funds from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank. The report on Amulsar says:

:A gold mine in Armenia threatens the habitat of the IUCN World Red List Persian leopard

The case of the Amulsar gold mine is just one example of a common pattern in mining cases: metal mining poses a huge threat to biodiversity, and it is often the communities who lead the effort to protect nature. The Amulsar Gold Mine is situated in central Armenia close to the popular spa town of Jermuk. Amulsar Mountain feeds the headwaters of major rivers for a number of very important water basins in the country. Canadian company Lydian International planned to develop an open-pit gold mine, which was expected to impact not only the water sources and air quality, but also the state of wildlife in this valuable natural region. The company received support from the EBRD (in 2009 and 2017) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) (the latter withdrew from the project in 2017). Lydian originally planned to use an extraction and processing technology known as cyanide leaching, which has alarmed the surrounding communities due to the technology’s potentially hazardous effects. Local residents, who make their livelihood by tending apricot orchards, collecting wild plants, breeding animals and farming fish, blocked access to the mine in 2018. In the summer of 2020, the company used force to break the protesters’ road blockades and intimidated and discredited members of the local community, protesters and activists by starting court cases. Independent experts, e.g. from WWF-Armenia and Balkani Wildlife Society (Bulgaria)28, argued that the approval of the project was in violation of the Republic of Armenia's flora and fauna laws, as the implementation of the investment would lead to a reduction in populations of a number of species threatened with extinction (as classified by the Republic of Armenia Red Book). The mine is also considered contrary to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, commonly known as the Bern Convention. The protection of wild species of plants and animals includes the protection of endangered individuals, but also their habitats. These habitats are protected in the network of areas known as the Emerald Network. The Amulsar mine operations could destroy three Emerald sites, 11 specific habitats and 76 protected species. The Persian leopard, the largest cat in the Caucasus, is among the species endangered by the Amulsar mine. It is estimated that only about 10 individuals of this species live in Armenia, moving along two migration corridors. One of the corridors crosses the mine area. Non-governmental organisations involved in the monitoring of the mine submitted a complaint to the Bern Convention.”

The report calls on the Commission to provide a clear vision and dedicate funds to overcome the problems related to raw materials mining. The EU should take the following actions to ensure that its new development model is sustainable:

➔     the reduction of resource use as the underlying principle for any new publicly financed project;

➔     the use of less-exploitative and toxic-safe technologies;

➔     the restoration of old mining sites;

➔     strict and efficient environmental, social and human rights due diligence for mining projects; and

➔     the right for communities affected by the mines and surrounding facilities to have a say.

The full report can be found here: 

February 12, 2021 at 17:01