Part Two: Minutes of Working Discussions on "Mining-Impacted Communities - Full Participants of EITI Process" Working Discussions

Part Two: Minutes of Working Discussions on

EcoLur

EcoLur is presenting the second part of the working discussions entitled "Mining-Impacted Communities - Full Participants of EITI Process" held in Yerevan on 29 October. Reminder: during the meeting, representatives of the impacted communities raised issues and recommendations related to the mining industry. Key responses and comments were provided by members of the EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), concerned ministries and civil society representatives.

This section of the discussion was devoted to the topic of "Compliance of Programs to Community Needs Performed with Funds Allocated within Corporate Social Responsibility of Mining Companies".

Lori Region, Oleg Dulgaryan, President of Community Mobilization and Support Center NGO: “The number of impacted settlements has increased. Nahatak tailing dump is located right in Mets Ayrum residential area. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Emergency Situations reports that the tailing dump is 6.5 kilometers away from the village. In Akhtala's enlarged community, only two of the seven settlements are impacted - Akhtala and Shamlugh. We will present new research to the public authorities on the causal link."

Kapan Community Head Gevorg Parsyan: “Kapan is considered a beneficiary community for two mining organizations – Chaarat Kapan and ZCMC. These two mining organizations have access to a community budget of approximately 170 million drams today in land development rights and servitude lease payments, which makes up 10 percent of our total budget. There are 37 villages in Kapan community.

There are 5 villages adjacent to the tailing dump. Now let's imagine that 170 million drams will be distributed only among these five villages. As for environmental payments, they actually make a small amount. That was 16 million drams in 2018."

 

Lilia Shushanyan, Deputy Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of the Republic of Armenia “Is that 16 million drams a very small amount in itself? If it is distributed among more settlements, that amount is even more diminished. Community heads may, by an internal procedure, arrange for contributions to be directed to the impacted communities. I think this issue will be resolved before the legislative amendments."

Kapan Community Head Gevorg Parsyan: "We find it expedient that the money is not directed to the impacted community, but to a specific problem in that large-scale community of Kapan."

Qajaran Community Head Manvel Paramazyan: “This year's environmental payment for Qajaran made up 22 million drams, and in 2018 - 0 drams. In 2020 it is again 0 AMD. We do not know the mechanism of calculationa. The plant works at the same rate. What it made 0 drams?"

Lilia Shushanyan, TAI Deputy Minister: “This year there was a problem with the tax changes. The problem is, in fact, proceeding to the unified calculation that’s why there was no money this year."

Ashot Giloyan, Head of Local Government Policy Department at MTAI: “On the initiative of the Ministry, we made amendments to the lease of the metal mining industry in accordance with the Government's decision. But environmental fees are very small. It should be viewed not as an impacted community but as an impacted area. If we do not solve this problem, the other issues are derivatives, we will not be able to solve it. ”

Arkadi Tamazyan, Head of Akhtala Enlarged Community: “There are also very few environmental funds in our community. In 2018 we didn’t even submit a plan, thinking that in 2019 the money will increase and we will submit a plan at that time. But in 2019, we were not able to implement the project. It is not correct to consider only the towns of Akhtala and Shamlugk as impacted communities because the tailing dump is in the middle of the villages of Tchotchkan and Mets Ayrum. Our entire enlarged community should be considered an impacted community.”

Shnogh Community Head David Ghumashyan: “After 10-15 years any mining company can quit. We know that there are decisions about reclaiming. How should this be done? Is it possible with a bank guarantee as the company can leave it all to the state?”

Aramayis Avagyan, the representative of Ministry of Environment: “The Code on Soil and the government decision have the concept of environmental protection fund related to reclaiming. It is clear that in the past those sums were scarce. Now we pay attention to it. I think that this money should be increased five times. In addition to physical claiming, biological reclaiming will also be carried out."

Lilia Shushanyan, TAI Deputy Minister: “There is also a financial guarantee provided by the legislation for waste management. Companies have a 60-month deadline for them to draft and submit a waste management plan.”

Lernik Chichilyan, a resident of Akhtala community: “Companies in corporate social responsibility give communities certain allocations, which is often viewed as a manifestation of goodwill. It is not specified what these allocations should be spent on, but there is also a lack of expediency and accountability. The expenditure of the allocated funds should be targeted. The funds provided by the company in the framework of corporate social responsibility must be provided by law."

Lilia Shushanyan, TAI Deputy Minister: “Yes, you are right, there must be a clear rule today about what social responsibility means. We will take into account all of you, while defining a set of tools we will strive to make acceptable to everyone, including community leaders, the population, the government and various authorities, as the first recipient of social responsibility should be the resident of that community."

Syunik Region, Boris Sargsyan, a member of Kapan Initiative: “These social programs should include air and water monitoring. Although the Ministry of the Environment carries out monitoring, practice has shown that these data may not be reliable. Non-governmental organizations should conduct separate monitoring of state funds and provide affected communities with air, soil and water monitoring equipment.”

 “These social programs should include air and water monitoring. Although the Ministry of the Environment carries out monitoring, practice has shown that these data may not be reliable. Non-governmental organizations should conduct separate monitoring with state funds, whereas impacted communities shall be provided with air, soil and water monitoring equipment.”

Rosa Julhakyan, an expert of EcoLur Informational NGO: “The issue raised by the government official is very relevant. I am really in favor of the notion of a settlement because the community is very common. In addition, there the targeted use of environmental fees is discussed. They should not submit a plan, decide with a council member, send it to the government, but justify the environmental direction of the project."

Arthur Grigoryan, a representative of EcoRight NGO: “Corporate social responsibility is regulated by law. The soil management contract specifies its format. There are 5 appendices, one of which relates to social responsibility. It states what responsibility is attached to the company in the framework of social corporate rules when granting a license and after concluding a contract.

No matter how much they say the community must be demanding, no one asks the opinion of the community when signing the contract. The contract is concluded between the state body and the company. The terms of the soil management contract and all the annexes thereto are agreed between them.

Still in 2012, we raised this question in the context of Teghut. Activities are carried out in the community, property tax is paid. They pay for real estate to the community, and to Yerevan for the movable property. The machinery was working in the community, polluting the air, but since the company was registered in Yerevan, the property tax was paid to Yerevan for the movable property. There is still this problem. There are many issues related to concentrate composition, concentrate dressing and purification costs, and transportation costs.

Vahe Harutyunyan, a resident of Ararat community: GeoProMining Gold LLC held public hearings on 75% increase in the productivity in Ararat. We heard about it an hour before the public hearings. We have very little awareness. We went there, there were 2 community heads and each one had brought 15 people who, without understanding what they wanted, raised their hands what they wanted for."

Ruzanna Grigoryan, a representative of Geopromining CJSC: “The law requires publishing an announcement in the Republic of Armenia newspaper 10 days ago. It is not our problem, one can read, one is not. If it is possible to change formats and the local website will publish the announcement, let's accept and do that to make it more effective.”

Ruzanna Grigoryan, a representative of Geopromining CJSC: “The law requires publishing an announcement in the Republic of Armenia newspaper 10 days ago. It is not our problem, one can read, one is not. If it is possible to change formats and the local website will publish the announcement, let's accept and do that to make it more effective.”

This material has been prepared within “Mining-Impacted Communities – Full Participants in EITI Process'” project implemented 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.

15:26 November 12, 2019


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