The Armenian government has extended mining rights to Lydian Armenia CJSC at the controversial Amulsar gold mine site for another three years, until 2039, without a new environmental impact assessment.
June 2022 amendments to Armenia’s mining legislation allow companies to mine with environmental impact assessments more than a year old, if work delays were caused by force majeure reasons, including “civil disobedience.”
Initial environmental impact assessments (EIA) finding in favor of the mine were thrown out after allegations that Lydian had a hand in manipulating their conclusions.
Armenian PM Nikol Pashinyan, facing mounting pressure at home opposing the mine, ordered a new audit conducted by the Lebanese firm ELARD.
In August 2019, the report found that environmental risks at Amulsar “would be manageable.” Pashinyan, pointing to the positive findings, said the Amulsar mine should be opened.
A public backlash forced the government to stand down and promise that it would order yet another EIA. The 2020 Artsakh war pushed the issue to the backburner and no new EIA was ever conducted. The June 2022 amendment also lists “war” as an acceptable force majeure reason for any delay.
Lydian Armenia can thus go ahead with the project based on the August 2019 ELARD report.
The Pashinyan administration, which originally opposed mining at Amulsar now supports it, pointing to the country’s post-war economic needs.
Lydian Armenia is a 100% subsidiary of Lydian Canada Ventures owned by the US firm, Orion Mine Finance and Canadian firm, Osisko Gold Royalties, who both invest in mining and mineral sectors, HETQ writes.