No Policy Exists in the Sphere of Mining Industry
During the Soviet period, it was decided to mine the Kajaran’s copper-molybdenum mine at such a pace as to have the mineral resource last for about 300 years. Now, annually, 10.8 million tons of ore is being mined at Kajaran, with a plan to mine annually 20 to 25 million tons of ore in the near future, and in the distant future – 40 to 45 tons of ore. This pace of exploitation of one of the world’s largest copper-molybdenum mines and the additional exploitation of other smaller copper-molybdenum mines in the country seems to be insufficient for the RA government, since it has given numerous companies permits to explore and to exploit many new mines throughout the country. During the period of 2004 to 2006 alone, 27 permits to explore prospective gold mines (with the intention of exploiting them) were given to both foreign and domestic companies. Note that these are the permits for the gold mines alone. If one considers the additional permits for exploring and/or mining other metals and non-metals during the past 5 to 6 years, then it becomes clear the extent to which the land in Armenia is being ravaged, especially if one considers the small size of Armenia.
Why is there such a strong motivation on the part of foreign
companies to mine in Armenia?
- In Armenia, the mining industry is allowed not to compensate for the economic damage it inflicts upon the surrounding communities as a result of its operations. For example, in the proposed Teghut mining Work Plan, we read, “The economic damage characterizes the plant’s impact on the surrounding environment. Even though the economic damage is calculated provisionally and is not subject to payment, it (the calculation) allows to estimate the effect of the plant’s operation on the surrounding environment” (Volume 7, page 67). It would be interesting to know by what rationale do the legislators and government officials not seek to add to government treasury large sums of money generated from mining industry. For example, in Teghut mining project design document, it is written that the exploitation of the mine will cause an annual economic loss of 2,078 billion dram (300 dram = 1 dollar), yet, the mining company is allowed not to pay that amount into the government treasury. (Note that it has been discovered that the number 2,078 billion dram represents an intentional miscalculation because the real loss is a far greater number). Apparently, mining companies in Armenia own the country.
- The law of the RA, “Regarding the Nature Preservation Payment Quotas”, 3rd paragraph, states: “The dumping (storage) fees for dumping industrial production and consumption wastes into the environment are set as follows, per ton of waste
- for 1st class hazardous wastes the fee is 48,000 dram
- for 2nd class hazardous wastes the fee is 24,000 dram
- for 3rd class hazardous wastes the fee is 4,800 dram
- for 4th class hazardous wastes the fee is 1,500 dram
- for non-hazardous wastes ( exempting wastes dumped by mining legal entities and non-hazardous wastes generated by disturbing the land surface and through construction activities), the fee is 600 dra
- for non-hazardous wastes dumped by mining legal entities the fee is 0
- very fast consumption of the remaining mineral deposits
- large scale destruction of the natural landscape and ecology, and a permanent contamination of the environmen
- destruction of fresh water sources, also contamination and thus, deterioration of the quality, of the remaining water supply
- loss of arable land, forests, orchards, pastures, with large tracts of land becoming useless and contaminated
- loss of agricultural/food production, also loss of farming jobs and food processing jobs, contamination of the produced food, meaning deterioration of food quality
- lowering of soil productivity due to contamination
- deepening and spreading of poverty
- increase in disease occurrences for the remaining wildlife and humans
- immigration to outside countries
- further weakening of government