Vayk Metal LLC, a company founded in the summer of 2015, wants to operate the Gladzor mine in Armenia’s Vayots Dzor province.
Three years ago, Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection refused to grant an operator’s license to another company, Vayk Resources, also interested in Gladzor.
Whether Vayk Resources or Vayk Metal, those interested to see the Gladzor mine in operation remain the same – Armenia’s former prime minister Hovik Abrahamyan and friends.
On November 17, EcoLur wrote that over 700 residents in the communities of Vernashen and Gladzor took to the streets to stop Vayk Metals from bringing heavy equipment to the mining site without their prior consent. The mine is on community land. Yesterday, the equipment was removed.
In September, Armenia’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) granted the company an exploratory permit valid until June 30,2017. But Vayk Metal still hasn’t received word from the ministry to start operating the mine.
The Gladzor poly-metallic mine is in the Yeghegnadzor district of Vayots Dzor. Vernashen, Hermon and Shatin are villages adjacent to the mine.
According to figures published by the MENR, the Gladzor mine has the following reserves:
The company’s 2016 preliminary environmental assessment, presented to the ministry, stated that operation of the mine would impact the atmosphere, surface water, surface soil, flora and fauna, as well as the entire natural relief of the land. Mine operation would also lead to a dust cover and dangerous gas emissions.
The assessment claims that water resources wouldn’t be polluted since dirty water resulting from the manufacturing process would be removed via mountainous drill holes. The water would then be cleaned and used again for technical usage.
In December 2013, the Ministry of Nature Protection issued a negative conclusion regarding the preliminary environmental assessment. The conclusion was signed by then Minister Aram Harutyunyan.
The preliminary assessment was submitted by a company called Vayk Resources LLC. The company was 75% owned by GeoPromMining Gold. The remaining 25% was owned by Aram Osikyan, a partner of former Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan.
Aram Osikyan is well connected to Armenia’s mining sector.
In a October 2014 Hetq article (All In the Family: Armenian Prime Minister’s Booming Business Empire - Part 2), we pointed out that Osikyan serves as director of a company called Argamik Ltd. (owned by Hovik Abrahamyan’s son Argam) that operates the Masis gold reprocessing plant, and is the 100% owner of Assat Ltd., another mining company.
In 2013, Assat Ltd. was issued a mining license for gold in the Karaberd area of Lori Province. In 2004, it received a license to extract gold at the Kakavasar mine in Vayots Dzor.
In the article, we wrote: “The friendship between Armenian Prime minister Hovik Abrahamyan and Aram Osikyan stretches back many years, and it cannot be ruled out that the prime minister or his relatives are linked to Assat Ltd.”
In 2005 Assat Ltd. performed another feasibility study of the Gladzor mine and found that it had manufacturing potential.
Between 2007 and 2009, Vayk Metal performed additional geological surveys and found that there was sufficient quality ore reserves to justify operating the mine.
But the Ministry of Nature Protection issued a negative conclusion, arguing that operating the mine on a partial opencast manner, according to the opinion of the BioResources Management Service, could irrevocably impact the nearby Yeghegis State Preserve.
Also taken into account was the negative feedback voiced during public hearings.
Vayk Metal founder and sole shareholder is Artur Ter-Simonyan. He is the son of Simon Ter-Simonyan, who heads the Armenian government’s Department for Loans and Humanitarian Assistance Programs.
Vayk Resources may have changed its name to Vayk Metal, but the individuals in the background remain the same.
At one public hearing, the Vayk Metal representative was the very same Aram Osikyan – confidante and business colleague of Hovik Abrahamyan and family.
Photo (from left): Simon Ter-Simonyan, Hovik Abrahamyan