We had sent some questions to RA Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Armen Movsisyan regarding the Halidzor gold mine exploratory license. We wanted to know what company had been given the license for the Syunik Marz mine.
Another question we had for Minister Movsisyan was the duration of the operating license given to the Nagin Company for the iron mine in the town of Hrazdan. The appropriate department at the ministry could have provided answers in the span of five minutes. But it took 11 days to get the following bizarre response.
In a letter sent by the Ministry, we were told that such information was included the official ministerial registry and that, according to law, said registry was available for public inspection. The letter, signed by the Ministry’s Chief of Staff, suggested that we personally make a trip to their offices and obtain the information in person.
Just imagine; it took the Ministry eleven days to draft such a ridiculous response.
It’s no secret that one of the most corrupt sectors in the Armenian economy is the mining sector. The public is provided scant information about the deals and transactions that are taking place regarding the country’s natural resources.
Exploratory and operating licenses are handed out in gross violation of the laws of the land and later, the mines are sold and resold for a hefty profit.
Years ago, in an alleged attempt to battle the endemic corruption associated with the mining sector, oversight was transferred from the Ministry of the Environment to the Ministry of Energy. The latter’s name was also modified to the current one.
But after all these changes, the matter just got worse.
Minister Armen Movsisyan has not been able, or has not desired, to change how the licensing agency under his supervision works. It seems that the current situation is conducive both to the minister and the rest of the top staffers.
Years ago, it took us one torturous month before we were finally allowed to see the registry which was alluded to in the Ministry’s response.
It was preserved like some cultural artifact. It fading papers, with various collared columns and half empty pages provides little real information.
Even the staff at the licensing agency has a hard time extracting anything of value from it.
One thing remains crystal clear. All this is a subterfuge is designed to conceal the dirty transactions taking place