The meeting of the Public Council adjunct to RA Nature Protection Minister held on 29 March was dedicated to the problems and risks of Amulsar gold mining project. The speaker was Hakob Sanasaryan, Chairperson of Greens Union of Armenia.
'We are all concerned with Amulsar project, first of all, conditioned with the geographic location of the Amulsar project,' Sanasaryan said, 'the project is implemented in the area of Arpa and Vorotan river basins and it affects Kechout, Spandaryan reservoirs and Lake Sevan.'
Hakob Sanasaryan claimed, 'The content of the EIA doesn't comply with the opinions, moreover, the content and conclusions contradict each other.'
He mentioned that the Expert Assessment Center should have noted the risks in its opinion, which were described in the EIA, for example, that heavy metals will affect water resources, there is a probable impact on Lake Sevan, biodiversity will reduce and heavy metals may penetrate into food chain because of acidic drainage. The descriptions of these risks contradict the conclusions of the company that their impact wll be insignificant or even zero. Sanasaryan mentioned that by issuing a positive opinion to the EIA the Expert Assessment Center and departments having submitted their opinions have simply agreed with the company that there are no risks.
Sanasaryan mentioned that the EIA mentions the risks of the acidic drainage and mentioned there are possible leaks and penetration of heavy metals and other ore elements into the water resources. Nevertheless, an opinion has been drawn up which says the impact on the water quality will be insignificant or zero. For example, Kechout and Spandaryan reservoirs have a key role in the water supply to Lake Sevan through Arpa-Sevan tunnel. The EIA says there may be leaks of acidic water to groundwater, which supply water to these reservoirs. Nevertheless, the opinion says that there won't be any impact on the water quality in the reservoirs, as the groundwater is not the only source for these reservoirs.
The EIA lays down risks for biodiversity which will result in irreversible changes for the ecosystem: dust which will accumulate on vegetation and penetrate into food basis of birds, explosions, which will result in the loss of animal migration corridors. 'The company has responsibility for zero damage, nevertheless, the measures proposed by the company, for example, transfer of species into a new habitat are impossible,' Sanasaryan mentioned.
In reply, the representative of Lydian Armenia Company Armen Stepanyan said that the company has a risk management plan, a rapid response plan and a passive cleaning system is planned to prevent pollution. In reply to the question on radioactive pollution Stepanyan said that the article (Note by EcoLur: Ресурсный потенциал радиоактивного сырья Армении и перспективы его освоения), which is usually cited in regard to the presence of uranium in Amulsar, also mentions the location of uranium 4.5-5 km south from Amulsar. He also stated that the State Committee on Nuclear Safety has carried out sampling and recorded that the radiation background in Amulsar is lower than that in Yerevan.
'Environmental Impact Expert Assessment Center' SNCO Expert Arthur Minasyan said that the risks are insured with management plans and measures, which are presented not only in the EIA, but also in the appendixes and the mine closedown program.
'EcoLur' Informational NGO President Inga Zarafyan mentioned that the Amulsar project is already in its active stage, the construction is in progress and proposed the Public Council to hold a monitoring of Amulsar project risks in line with the plan, which will enable having more subject-matter discussions.
RA Nature Protection Minister Artsvik Minasyan cited RA Law 'On Environmental Impact Assessment and Expertise', which lays down the cases when the opinion of the expert center can be annulled and noted he is ready to discuss this issue once again if there are scientifically-substantiated facts that the risks have been assessed wrongly. He also informed that based on the application of the international organizations having issued a negative opinion to the EIA of the Amulsar project a working meeting will be held in May with the participation of the experts and ministry employees and, probably, with Lydian Armenia company implementing Amulsar project.
15:20 April 03, 2018