Tailing Dumps as Gifts

Tailing Dumps as Gifts

Tehmine Yenoqyan

Lori, Nahatak reservoir owned by “Akhtala OPC” CJSC covers an area of ​​13.7 hectares. The Government of Armenia has set a fee of 30 drams for 1 ton of hazardous waste, less than it is for domestic waste. The tailing dump is higher than the intercommunity road. 

Mets Ayrum resident Kamo Gharagyozyan tells: "There are cattle grazing here, children playing, there have been times when people's cattle have fallen into the dump, got dead."

For several months Akhtala OPC has been transferring 5.5 million drams a month to the community budget in the framework of social and corporate responsibility. The Akhtala ore Dressing Plant had promised in the summer of 2019 that it would no longer fill tails into the tailings dump in Nahatak.

In the summer months the staff of Czech “Arnika” organization was hosted in the communities of Alaverdi, Mets Ayrum and Tchotchkan. Experts collected samples from soil water, chicken eggs, including human hair.

Oleg Dulgaryan, head of Center for Community Mobilization and Support, intends to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for health damage on behalf of residents. The number of people with cancer in Alaverdi reaches 800.

Lori, Teghout CJSC, Teghout Tailing Dump: Teghout tailing dump with a volume of 16.4 million is the second largest tailing dump in Armenia, currently occupying 53 hectares of land, which is designed to become 260 hectares.

According to “Strathcona’ consulting firm's opinion issued in 2001, there is a considerable technical, and therefore, financial challenge to deposit 500 million tones of tailings and 600 million tones of various waste categories in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner.”

However, Vallex, formerly operating the Teghut mine, concealing these warnings, built the Teghut tailing dump. Three years after the mine was operated and after 30 million tons of tailings accumulated, the company faced the problem of tailing dam sustainability, which forced it to stop operating the mine.

Ararat Region, Ararat Zod, GeoProMining Gold LLC, Sotq Mine, Ararat Cyanide Tailings Dump. Sotk Gold Mine operating in Gegharkunik Region since 2008 is processing raw materials at Ararat Gold Extraction Plant. According to Article 10 of Law on Lake Sevan, it is forbidden to place hazardous waste in the adjacent area, so Sotq wastes appear in the Ararat Valley.

The tailing dump is 165 hectares, filled with about 15 million cubic meters of tailings, rich in cyanide, as well as numerous heavy and hazardous metals. In the immediate vicinity of the tailing dump are 79 hectares of fish ponds, the residents of nearby communities were catching fish from nearby rivers.

The head of Ararat community informs that Geopromining Gold Company owns 560 hectares of land with the right of ownership, for which it pays 1 930 000 AMD land tax.

Syunik, Agarak Copper and Molybdenum Combine, Daramaz and Hovit Tailing Dumps

There are 3 tailings dams of Agarak Copper and Molybdenum Combine, one is conserved and one is operating, the plant wants to expand the third one.

The area of Daramaz tailing dump is 82.3 hectares, that of Hovit 1 tailing dump is 42.2 hectares, that of Hovit 2 is 3.1 hectares. The company pays 15 960 000 AMD for the leasing of the tailings dumps and the company pays 15 760 980 for the mine area. This tailing dump does not have a protective layer, dust often rises in the air contaminating adjacent settlements. A criminal case has been initiated in Syunik Regional Department of Investigative Committee by the request of the residents of the town. The plant wastewater had damaged the villagers' orchards.

Syunik Region, “Charaat Kapan” CJSC, Geghanush Tailing Dump: the Geghanush Tailing Dump is 32 hectares, there were orchards in the area at one time. The tailing dump was built on the Geghanush River gorge. An inquiry by Ecolur NGO to the Technical Security Expert Examination SNCO of Ministry of Emergency Situations revealed that the expert assessment was based solely on the data of the mining company.

Chaarat Kapan CJSC leases 26,786 hectares of land from Geghanush community, paying a total of 3 million 718,000 AMD, 13 hectares from Syunik village paying 640,000 drams, and Kapan's ODP leases 95.57 hectares from the administrative area of ​​Atchanan village paying 11 million 869 800 drams.

Syunik Region, ZCMC, Artsvanik tailing dump: on the other hand, the village of Atchanan is separated by 500 meters from Artsvanik tailing dump. Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Combine is now expanding the tailings areas.

The current tailing dump occupying 330 hectares is projected to be 390 hectares. The inspections by Environmental and Mining Inspection revealed that ZCMC carried out 5 million tonnes of illegal soil managementin 2017. No criminal case has been initiated for illegal mining.

Arthur Grigoryan, the former head of Environmental and Mining Inspection, quoted in a document published by the Inspectionsaying that the ore was extracted and stored in a pit, while it was not allowed. In 2017, 27.2 million tonnes of ore were actually redeemed from the balance sheet reserves of the mine, while a 22 million tonnes annually was envisaged by the soil management contract.

On October 17, 2019, wastewater appeared in the Voghji River due to the recent accident at the Artsvanik tailing dump.

The Government of the Republic of Armenia does not yet have such a revolutionary stance to calculate the damage caused to nature and humanity and to adequately assess environmental crimes occurring daily.

November 08, 2019 at 14:38