Under the information the ArmInfo News Agency has disseminated, “independent Wardell Armstrong Consulting Company hasn’t revealed environmental risks in Amoulsar gold mine development project.” Consulting Company director Jean Louis made this statement when he presented the project assessment in the public hearings in rural communities adjacent to the mine, as well as in Jermuk Town Municipality. The concession to Amoulsar mine development was issued to Lydian International Company as represented by its subsidiary Geoteam Company. EcoLur working group has took part in the discussions in Jermuk and Gndevaz Village and stated these were not public hearings which have certain procedure, but an open discussion in Gndevaz and a closed discussion in Jermuk. On 13 May 2011 on Mayor Vardan Hovhannisyan’s request Amoulsar project risks, including probable uranium pollution risks, were discussed in Jermuk.
Geoteam Company denied any probable risks, and its director Hayk Aloyan and Wardell Armstrong Company representative Jean Louis stated about the results of studies in ALSCemex laboratories: uranium content in 3500 samples doesn’t exceed 0,0002% which is extremely low.
The issue of radiation risks arose when www.ecolur.org republished G. P. Aloyan’s article “Resource Potential of Radioactive Raw Materials in Armenia and Its Development Pespectives” published in Russian “Горный журнал” journal, Issue N 6, 2007. The article speaks about 5 uranium demonstrations in Amoulsar.
Geoteam Director Hayk Aloyan stated this article was actually written by Petros Aloyan (Hayk Aloyan’s father, 50-60’s expedition member on uranium reserves prospecting in Armenia), and these data has no connection with Geoteam project. “We have made 3500 samples and showed to all communities there is no uranium in our samples. These data have no connection with Amoulsar gold mine, I consider this issue to be closed,” said Hayk Aloyan and noted Professor Aloyan also has nothing in common with Amoulsar project.
He stated the issue refers not only to Jermuk, but also the whole reputation of the country. “This is the issue of investments made by serious companies registered in serious countries, but political matters hinder them. Tomorrow these companies must protect their interests in countries where wars are waged, while through such articles they try to hinder these companies to invest their money. I want to say this affects not only Jermuk, but also the whole country, and I would like the national security service to deal with this matter and check why such articles are published,” said Geoteam Director.
Jean Louis noted the highest standards were used in the analyses of these samples also used by the US Environmental Protection Agency. “The highest concentration of uranium in the samples was lower than permissible standards,” he said.
Lydian International Company General Manager, Caucasus, Nerses Karamanukyan also took part in this meeting and said: “You received information there is no uranium, but you didn’t pay any attention. We bear responsibility, let you also be responsible. We comply with norms in accordance with the standards of our organization.”
For our part EcoLur draws attention the following points:
1. G. P. Aloyan’s article is a scientific article which underwent review in the scientific journal and doesn’t need any additional reviews when republished. If there are opponents to the article, they can submit their viewpoints and we will also publish them.
2. The whole responsibility of Lydian International Company for risks must be reflected not in its own reports, but also in the environmental impact assessment submitted to the Environmental Expert Group. This very documentation is the basis to receive environmental expert assessment opinion. As a matter of fact, the documentation submitted to the expert assessment (Tigranes Amoulsar mine opencast development and the minutes of the public hearings) doesn’t say anything about radiation risks, risks of pollution with heavy metals which can be tracked through probable excess of maximum permissible concentrations during explosions and crushing process. The documents don’t specify the site designed for wastes and barren rocks, they don’t lay down where the company intends to construct a factory and what certain technologies they intend to apply. The documents also don’t set out what impact opencast development will have on water resources. At the same time the company has data about the considerable presence of first-class hazardous elements in these samples, such as arsenic, cadmium, chrome, mercury, lead etc. Maybe they don’t present any industrial interest, but they can pose danger in the form of wastes. It’s amazing 40 links out of 68 references cited in the literature of the environmental impact assessment refer to the flora and fauna, while only one passage is devoted to this topic in the project itself.
3. All this witnesses a new environmental impact assessment should be submitted that will reflect not only transportable machinery emission risks, as the main part of the current environmental impact assessment is devoted to these risks, but not the risks voiced by public. This is the responsibility of the company which is currently supported by IMF and EBRD, two institutions adhering to international standards. It should also be mentioned that under the Aarhus Convention, public has a right to speak about risks, while the company is obliged to take into consideration this information and to take public opinion into account when developing the environmental impact assessment.
4. What about uranium it is logical to suppose that Hayk Aloyan is well aware of his father’s article and this is the real reason for the company to install radiation meters in Gndevaz Village.
5. It should be mentioned all the statements about national security are timely, that’s why Ecolur has applied to Energy and Natural Resources Ministry which officially bears responsibility for radiation security, an integral part of national security, to examine scientific information and to determine the borders of uranium demonstrations in Amoulsar, so as not only the company, but we are all sure that opencast development won’t touch uranium demonstrations. Unfortunately, the ministry reply is based on exclusively on the data provided by the company conducting prospecting in their own borders and not having a right to go beyond these borders. We are sure scientific documentation and scientific information are needed to exercise state control. Maybe additional prospecting will affect on investment or on the term of developing Amoulsar mine. For our part, we would like to mention the interests of a private company which is foreign for 100%, can’t be compared with the interests of the whole country responsible for the security of its citizens and environment.
13:17 May 30, 2011