In a small country as Armenia is, one might think that there shouldn’t be huge environmental problems, but, in fact, taking into account the account that the country is rich in copper, iron, molybdenum, zinc, gold and other metals, and therefore nowhere is environmental crime more prevalent and harmful than in RA’s mining industry. In addition to base metals, other metals include rhenium, selenium, tellurium, cadmium, indium and bismuth. With almost 400 mines in operation, mining is considered an important economic sector in RA, accounting for over half of the country’s exports. The ownership of these mines is often unclear, as many companies are registered offshore. It is clear though that members of RA’s political elite have stakes in these companies. Some companies that operate in RA are formally based in the European Union (EU). In general, RA’s government attempts to encourage investment in the mining industry through low tax rates as well as lax and ambiguous environmental and labour regulations. Ambiguities in the law are routinely interpreted in ways that benefit the mining industry. Moreover, even these weak regulations are frequently violated with impunity. Lack of administrative resources, collusion between private and public interests are mainly responsible for the lack of enforcement
The way mining is conducted in RA has disastrous consequences for the country’s environment and the well-being of its citizens. Mining has led to widespread deforestation and the destruction of arable land. Moreover, heavily polluted tailings are discarded in ways that contaminate lakes, rivers and soil. Smelters pollute the air. Mining thereby endangers the health and the subsistence of RA’s citizens. Since rivers often cross borders, mining-related pollution endangers the environment and citizens of neighboring countries as well, namely Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The EU proposed financial aid to RA for 2014 – 2017 ranges from €140 to €170 million. RA’s closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan have limited Armenian economic activity and play a role in RA’s heavy dependency on international assistance. In response to past international recommendations, including those given by the EU, to enact anti-corruption measures, RA complied. However, these measures have proved to be mostly symbolic as a means to continue to receive foreign aid. The EU can use its economic position to encourage RA to enact policies that are truly effective in combating environmental crime and compliant with international law as a term of continuing current business relations and financial assistance.
Yes, still there are lots of environmental problems, but there are also people, NGOs residents, kids who are trying to protect their rights of living and having access to clean nature, environment, water, soil and planet and one of the NGOs is Armenian Environmental Front who are doing their best to let the next generations live in a healthier environment․ Hope the new government together with NGO’s and residents will do their best to meet the generations’ expectations.
Vazashen/in Tavush region/ without any mines is an initiative against **AU** LLC group that wants to research the area for a possible mine. It’s about 50 km far from my hometown Berd and I am so happy that people stand for their rights and organise events to inform everyone that mining companies are nothing than danger for us, for our homes and our generations. P.S. The meeting will be on February 27, 2019 in Vazashen, Tavush, Armenia
If you also have a small home-country like me, then you know, for sure, that this situation feels like a kid losing its mother or a mother losing her kid. A person without a safe home-country is like a person without a roof. I hope to witness the government making the decision to ban any mining in the territory of Armenia and at that time the phoenix will rise and fly all over the world.
Important mine-environment protection battle in Armenia
Amulsar Gold mine Battle