MAC: Mines and Communities

Environmental activists picket bank over mining project, Armenia

Published by MAC on 2010-08-16
Source: Azatutyun, PanARMENIAN

Ecologists Picket Bank Over Armenian Mining Project

Hasmik Smbatian

28 July 2010

About two dozen environmental activists clashed with police on Wednesday as they picketed the Armenian branch of a Russian commercial bank that plans to finance a controversial mining project in northern Armenia.

The police used force against the protesters after they blocked the entrance to the Yerevan head office of the VTB-Armenia bank and refused to let anyone in or out of the building. One of the protesters, Armenian Green Party leader Armen Dovlatian, was injured in the scuffle.

The country's leading environment protection groups and other non-governmental organizations have for years been campaigning against plans by the Armenian Copper Program (ACP) mining company to develop a massive copper and molybdenum deposit in the northern Lori region. The Teghut deposit is estimated to contain 1.6 million tons of copper and about 100,000 tons of molybdenum.

The project, if implemented, will lead to the destruction of 357 hectares of rich forest, including 128,000 trees. Critics say that would wreak further havoc on Armenia's green areas that have already shrunk dramatically since the 1990s.

ACP admits the heavy environmental cost of its plans but says it will be more than offset by 1,400 new jobs which it has pledged to create in the area. The Liechtenstein-registered company has also pledged to build new schools and make other investments in the local infrastructure.

The project was formally approved by the Armenian government in 2007. The subsequent global economic crisis delayed its implementation, with the Russian bank VTB delaying the release of a $300 million loan promised to ACP. The company needs the loan to launch open-pit operations at Teghut.

The protest outside VTB-Armenia followed reports that the Russian bank will disburse the sum later this year. The protesters demanded that the bank withhold funding for the "illegal project." Bank executives refused to meet with them.

Karine Danielyan: incomes of copper-molybdenum deposit cannot be compared with loss of Teghut forest


28 July 2010

Armenian ex-minister of ecology, Chairperson of For Sustainable Human Development NGO Karine Danielyan said that incomes from mining of Teghut copper-molybdenum deposit cannot compensate the loss that Armenia will suffer in case of Teghut forest elimination. The deposit's development will assist Armenia's economy for five years, while we will never manage to restore the region's ecology, Danielyan told journalist during a protest action against deforestation of Teghut.

According to her, instead of the deposit's development, canning plants can be reopened to create new jobs for local residents. She added that there are unique animals in the region, which are on the Red List, and they will disappear in case of Teghut deforestation.

The protest action of activists against deforestation of Teghut was held on July 28 in front of the central office of VTB Bank (Armenia). The activists accuse the bank of allocating a $243mln loan to Armenian Copper Program aimed at Teghut deforestation for the development of Teghut copper-molybdenum deposit in Lori region.

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