GeoProMining Gold Plans Closed-Pit Operation at Armenia's Sotk Mine
GeoProMining Gold LLC intends to operate Armenia’s Sotk gold mine until 2025 via the open-pit method, after which it will revert to closed-pit mining.
GeoProMining Gold LLC, which runs the mine, is wholly owned by Cyprus-registered GeoProMining that is majority owned by Russian billionaire businessman Roman Trotsensko.
The company has submitted a draft environmental safety assessment to Armenia’s Ministry of Environment to this end.
Sotk is the largest gold mine in Armenia and now employs about 870 people, most of whom (98.2%) are from the Armenia’s Gegarkunik Province. The mine employed double this number before last year’s Karabakh war.
As a result of the war, and the redrawing of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, a portion of the mine came under the control of Azerbaijan.
In November 2020, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces Tiran Khachatryan said that half of the mine was in Armenia and the other half in Azerbaijan.
The company, which has been granted an open-pit mining permit until 2023, doesn’t specify how long it will continue closed-pit mining.
The capacity of the Sotk open pit mine is currently 1 million tons per year. This project envisages increasing the productivity of the open pit mine to 1.75 million tons per year, and then proceeding to the underground processing, the capacity of which will make 400,000 tons annually.
It’s unclear why the company will revert to closed-pit mining at Sotk. Some speculate that it may be for security concerns.
As productivity will decrease because of closed-pit mining, the company says it will carry out exploration work in parallel with extraction.
GeoProMining also operates the Agarak Copper-Molybdenum Combine some eight kilometers from the town of Meghri in southern Armenia.