Armenian Environmental NGO Blasts Global Gold, Armenian Minister of the Environment and Urge the CONVERSE BANK to Approach the Toukhmanuk Gold Mine Project with Caution.
On September 2, 2014 a press conference was held in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, regarding the objections by civil society against the development of a new 3rd tailings dam at the Toukhmanuk Gold Mine, located at the Meliq Village.
A report of the conference was broadcast by KENTRON.tv and covered by the newspapers Aravot and the independent news agency ARM-INFO.
Below is Armenian TV news report as broadcasted on Kentron TV on September 2, 2014. (transcript below).
On April 26, 2013 the Minister of the Environment rejected Global Gold's subsidiary (Mego-Gold) application for the building of a 3rd tailings dam at the village of Meliq to support mining at the Toukhmanuk Gold Mine. (see: BLOG: Global Gold's Application for A New Tailings Dam REJECTED by Ministry of Nature Protection of the Republic of Armenia).
The new approval came on June 30, 2014, two months after the appointment of a new minister of the Environment. Word of the approval was hidden by the ministry and was only discovered by the public after Global Gold filed its June 30, 2014 10-Q filings.
Local NGO's are mystified on the about face. Nothing on the ground has changed that would justify the approval of the 3rd tailings dam. NGO's and the local villagers at Meliq oppose the project because and local laws have not been followed and the size of the tailings dam threatens the village, its water supply and farm lands.
The Aravot newspaper also published an article on September 2, 2014: «Արամայիս Գրիգորյան, ապացուցիր, որ դու Արամ Հարությունյանից վատը չես», translated to "A. Grigoryan, prove that you're not as bad as Aram Harutyunyan".
Many NGO's consider the last Minister of the Environment, Mr. Aram Harutyunyan, was bad for Armenia, and hope that the new Minister, Mr. Aramayis Grigoryan will not repeat the mistakes of the past and move to reject the Toukhmanuk Gold Mine tailings dam before it is too late.
Ms. Greta Gabrielyan of the environmental NGO Eco-Alliance stated that they have sent numerous letters addressed directly the President of the Republic of Armenia, and the Toukhmanuk Project and the threat to the Meliq village has received a lot of publicity. For these reasons the Minister should be careful to consider the 3rd tailing. According to Ms. Gabrielyan, letters to the Ministry sent since April have remained unanswered, but on August 2, 2014 it became known that on June 30, 2014.
NGO's asked that the CONVERSE BANK of Armenia, the bank that is currently looking at financing the project, to be careful on what kind of project they are financing.
Transcript of KENTRON TV Broadcast:
In another article published online by the independent news agency Arm-Info, Mr. Arthur Grigoryan, a lawyer said that: "We are dealing with a phenomenon when the project gets a positive score, despite the expert community's protest."
Transcript of KENTRON TV Broadcast:
Narrator: The building of the third tailing dam at the Toukhnamouk mine has been approved. Considering the ministry of nature protection has already once rejected this project presented since 2012.
Seyran Minassian (independent expert): After the rejection, absolutely no measures have been implemented, no new analysis has been added, no new plan has been added. What is the approval based on?
Narrator: The environmentalists are not only surprised on the approval to build the third tailings dam. Additionally, Mego Gold company has also prepared a new project for the operation of the plant and for the building of a new tailings dam.
Arthur Grigoryan (Member of the civil initiative of the protection of teghut): They have committed major breaches in that area. With this new project they are trying to cover and neutralize their violations.
Narrator: Based on the information held by the environmentalists, the new tailings dam subject to the new project, is many times larger than the village itself.
Arthur Grigoryan (Member of the civil initiative of the protection of teghut) (Showing a map) This dark areal is the village, these small areas are the current tailing damps and this whole area is the new tailings dam. How many times larger is it compared to the village?
Narrator: According to Seyran Minassian, giving an approval to the plant and the new project will damage a whole village.
Seyran Minassian (independent expert): If they proceed to build this new factory and implement this new plan then Meliq Village should be moved because it only has a length of approximately 2km and this makes it so that the factory is on one end and the tailings damp on the other.
Narrator: The president of the NGO, Ecological Academy, is convinced that the operation of the Toukhmanuk mine will not only be catastrophic to the Meliq Village but also to the Ararat fields.
Greta Gabrielyan (Member of Eco-Alliance): Continuing the exploitation of the mine at Meliq Village means water that flows to the basin of the Halavar and Abaran regions will be polluted with heavy metal residues.
Narrator: In these circumstances, the environmentalists say the approval of the third tailings dam can be considered a criminal offence.
Arthur Grigoryan (Member of the civil initiative of the protection of teghut): This is either the result of incredible stupidity, which I don’t think is the case, or just a usual corruption affair which is more probable.
Narrator: We tried to get explanations from the director of Mego Gold Company Ashot Poghosyan who asked us to call back in 3 hours. After 3 hours, he answered that he’s aware of the environmentalists’ claims and that they are mainly false. Instead of presenting us with counter facts, he invited us to the public hearing due to take place on September 10.