Wastes from Marjan Mine Regarded for 30 Years Turned Into Subject of Lawsuit

Wastes from Marjan Mine Regarded for 30 Years Turned Into Subject of Lawsuit

Mining wastes abandoned for about 30 years in Sisian forest has been polluting the environment: air, soil and rivers.

Photo Credit: The Ministry of Environment

These are the landfills and dumps having generated as a result of exploration and geoprospecting works carried out in the area of ​​Marjan gold-polymetallic mineral field in 1959-1992, which have not been recycled so far. Arevis borderline settlement of enlarged Sisian Community is located in the impact zone of the mine, which irrigates the waters of the Sisian River, its tributary Salvard, which are polluted with heavy metals and toxic substances.

"During the communist era, the mine was inspected. They took it out and dumped the waste in the forest, dumped everything on the tree, which flow into the Sisian River. Whereas people are using this water: there are thousands of poisons. The water at the top of the river has the color of milk, it is made of sulfur,” Sasun Sahakyan, the administrative representative of Aris settlement, said in his conversation with EcoLur. The Sisian River flows into the Tolors Reservoir, its water is used for energy production and irrigation.

According to the data by "Hydrometeorological and Monitoring Center" SNCO of RA Environment Ministry in 2020, the Sisian River had a 4th class pollution in the estuary due to the concentrations of manganese, iron, aluminum and molybdenum. The molybdenum concentration was particularly high. The waste areas of Marjan mine have been included in the area provided by special license HA-L-411 to "Global Gold Hanqavan" LLC since 2009.

This company had planned to mine 60,190 tons of ore from the central part and wings of the mine in an experimental manner. However, soil management contract NPV-398 reformulated in 2013, “Marjan Mining” Company was laid down as a soil manager. According to the document, this company did not have any obligation to recycle the landfill sites built in 1959-1992, they were considered ownerless/derelict. However, at the same time, the soil management contract signed with "Marjan Mining" company made it a condition for the company to develop a new working project.

The issue of landfill reclamation was considered expedient to be discussed within the framework of that working project or area reclamation and conservation design documents for the area (mine, dump, etc.), as it is mentioned in the document entitled "Database on derelict/ownerless production landfill sites and closed facilities as a result of mining waste production" developed by RA Environment Ministry". 

For our part, we should mention that according to the soil management contract given to “Marjan Mining” Company, the company was to operate the mine by 2033. That is, until then, the waste should have been abandoned with all its negative impact.
 “Marjan Mining” Company did not operate Marjan mine. Bankruptcy Court of the Republic of Armenia declared the company bankrupt by its decision dated on 04.02.2019.

On June 25, 2020, RA Bankruptcy Court delivered a decision "On Allowing the Sale of Property by Direct Transaction", which enabled the bankruptcy liquidator of "“Marjan Mining” Company to sell the waste generated in the Soviet years - 27000 tons, by direct transaction - 17460 AMD per ton to sell to "MLL Motors" LLC on payment condition until 30.11.2020. However, RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure joined the lawsuit, substantiating its complaint that the right to dispose of these industrial landfills belongs to the state, as the dumps did not arise as a result of the company's own activities.

On October 29, 2020, the court decided to uphold the appeal of RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure.

By the order of Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure dated on July 29, 2020, the right of "Marjan Mining Company" was terminated.

Lack of agricultural machinery, poor condition of interstate roads, the lack of markets are among the issues that need to be addressed as a priority.

"We have no way out. The state does not even know whether or not this village exists. We have not seen anything good since enlargement, everything has become more difficult. People are leaving the village," he said.

Community Deputy Head of Sisian Vardan Ivanyan, referring to the operation of the mine, said. "Mining is a very short-term solution with a very low economic level," he said. “It is better to focus on a sustainable, effort-taking, hard way of agriculture and green production, but it will be green production and after 30 years our production will gradually develop.”

This material has been prepared within “Liability of Non-operating Mining Companies in EITI Process” project impletmened by EcoLur with the USAID support within the frames of “Engaged Citizenry for Responsible Governance” project implemented by Transparency International Anticorruption Center.

This article is made possible by the generous support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

March 01, 2021 at 12:27