“Akhtala Ore Dressing Combine” CJSC intends to construct a new tailing dump in the area of Tchotchkan and Mets Ayrum communities in Lori Region using 40 ha of agricultural land areas in the communities. It will be the second tailing dump for these communities, which will be closer to the transboundary Debed River and Armenia-Georgia interstate road. “To what extent it’s admissible to construct a tailing dump in such active seismic zone in the viewpoint of national security, which can flow at any time and block the Debed riverbed in the gorge of the Debed River, the railwat and the road running to Georgia,” said Seyran Minasyan, expert in environmental impact monitoring, at the press conference held at EcoLur Press Club on 27 March.
Around 200 Mets Ayrum residents oppose to the construction of this tailing dump, which have declared about launching SOS Ayrum campaign. The campaign is getting stronger joined by EcoLur, journalists and public figures.
Ayrum Resident Demanding to Suspend New Tailing Dump Construction Project
Naira Bulghadaryan, www.azatutyun.am
The authors of the letter insist that the Aldermen’s Council have approved the project without taking their opinion into consideration. Around 70% of the village population has put their signatures under the open letter, as a matter of fact, opposing to the local government.
Out of 4 members of the Aldermen’s Council only Oleg Durgaryan supports the villagers, “We, the residents of Mets Ayrum, oppose to the construction of a new tailing dump in our land areas and demand to stop this process, unless Akhtala Ore Dressing Combine solves the reclaiming and compliance with safety standards of the old tailing dumps.”
Expert Group member Seyran Minasyan is angry with the irresponsible approach of the government and mining company, “We already don’t have Akhtala River, we have an Akhtala tail pipeline. They haven’t reclaimed tails and dumps anywhere. Now they are filling the tailing dump in Nahatak gorge, which already has the same height as the gorge, while winds and storms spread the tails. They mine copper, as it was mined in the Bronze Age. It’s impermissible, it’s 21st century.”
In reply to these concerns, Akhtala Ore Dressing Combine Executive Director Martik Hakobyan informed the “Azatutyun” that they have large programs – they plan to neutralize the current tailing dump and to construct a new one with latest technologies.
“People in Akhtaka starve, while we help 700 people to work and to get salary: if the average salary in 2010 was 130,000, now the average salary is 250,000,” he said.
Most Peach Harvest in Mets Ayrum Community Contains Lead Exceeding MPC 2-4 Times
Arthur Hovhannisyan, Nyut.am
“Since 2013 we have been studying peach harvest in Mets Aryum community, soil, water and leaves, and I can clearly say that the concentration of lead (heavy metal known as a very toxic substance) has exceeded in most peach samples, 60-70%, 2-4 times sanitary and health standard, which is directly the impact of the tailing dump of Akhtala Ore Dressing Combine located in Nahatak Gorge,” Seyran Minasyan said.
For comparison we took the samples of peach from road sections in Yerevan, Aramus, Akhtarak and Zovuni and analyzed them, as we thought that lead concentration in dust may be high and we could have the same picture. But no, our studies clearly show it’s definitely the result of the tailing dump.”
Villagers address a letter to Armenian Prime Minister over a tailing dump of Akhtala Mining Plant
Karina Manukyan, ArmInfo
195 residents of Mets Ayrum rural community have addressed a letter to Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan over the situation around the tailing dump of the Akhtala Mining Plant. The letter has also been sent to all parliamentary groups of Armenia, the OSCE Office in Yerevan, Armenian Ministry of Nature Protection and the Standing Parliamentary Commission for Agriculture and Environment.
The letter expresses concerns about the Government's decision to change the category of farming lands into industrial lands in the light of construction of a new tailing dump of the Akhtala Mining Plant on an area of 40 hectares. The letter stresses that despite the discontent of the Mets Ayrum residents, on March 26, 2015, the administration of Mets Ayrum made a positive decision on that issue.
Meanwhile, the exploitation conditions of the tailing dumps in Akhtala and Mets Ayrum fail to meet the main environmental and safety standards and endanger the health of the local population.
In addition, the rural residents have repeatedly complained of their deteriorating health due to the impact of the Nahatak tailing dump. The authors of the letter specify that the community people receive no compensation for the damage inflicted to their health and environment.
In this light, the residents of Mets Ayrum come out against construction of the new tailing dump and urge the Akhtala Mining Plant to solve the problems related to re-cultivation and safety norms at the old tailing dumps. In addition, the residents demand declaring the Feb 26, 2015 decision null and void.
On March 24 and 25, a group of independent experts from Yerevan monitored the situation in the areas adjacent to the Akhtala Mining Plant. At a press conference on March 27, expert Seyran Minasyan said that the group revealed tails in Alaverdi, Akhtala and Mets Ayrum. The current management of the Akhtala Mining Plant takes no measures to clean the specified areas from the tails.
The operating Nahatak tailing dump of the Mining Plant is also criticized. The surveys conducted since 2013 have revealed that the lead content in the 60-70% of peaches in Mets Ayrum is 2-4-fold higher than the maximum admissible limit.
To note, in summer 2014 the former director general of the Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine Maxim Hakobyan became the new owner of the Akhtala Mining Plant. The plant had previously belonged to the Metal Prince Ltd.
15:58 March 30, 2015