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Edik Baghdasaryan

Secrets of Armenia’s Underground Resources

“The volumes of foreign investments in the fields of mineral resource industry and metallurgy in Armenia in 2006 amounted to $110 million, which is comparable to the last year's showing,” stated a press release by Arminfo on April 6, 2007.

The source of the information is Tigran Davtyan, deputy minister of Trade and Economic Development. The deputy minister made no comment as to whether there had been a rise or a fall in the investment volumes. In spite of the apparent growth in the mineral industry throughout the world, there was no recorded increase in investments in Armenia.

According to the deputy minister, $66 million were invested in the mineral resource industry in 2006. The following companies made the investments.

Chronimet - $47 million; 
APC - Armenian Copper Programme, CJSC - $3.11 million; 
IBR - Iberian Resources Ltd - $9 million; 
Global Gold Corporation - $9 million; 
Metal Prince Ltd - $4 million.

The minister's companies and the taxes he paid

Surart Ltd, which was founded by the son of Minister of Nature Protection Vardan Ayvazyan, and which owns the Bazum iron deposits in the Lori Marz and the Kamakar mine in the Syunik Marz with 1.4 billion tons in the total volume of ore (for comparison, the Kajaran Mine reserves are 450 million tons) has had, according to a source in the Tax Department, a turnover of 400,000 drams (about $1,200) since its establishment. This means that there are no jobs in the company, no taxes were paid, and no compulsory payments to the Ecological Fund or any other payments were made.

Nagin Ltd, which is owned by Vardan Ayvazyan's family (the minister's wife and son are the founders of the company) and to which Minister Ayvazyan granted licenses to explore and develop the Hrazdan iron mine, the Abovyan iron mine, and the Svarants mine with a total of 500 tons of ore has not done any work since it was registered and according to the Tax Department has had no turnover. This company, too, has created no jobs, paid no taxes or any other payments.

Grade Redmet Ltd, which holds a license to explore the Fioletovo Gold Mine granted by Vardan Ayvazyan to himself in the names of a friend of his wife's, Mayren Batoyan, and Hasmik Harutyunyan, the wife of a department head at the State Nature Protection Inspection Yervand Hovhannisyan according to the same source in the Tax Department has not done any work since its registration, created any jobs, paid any taxes or any other compulsory payments.

Alexis, Ltd, founded by the minister's son Suren Ayvazyan, has shown just 120,000 drams (about $330) in turnover since its establishment, and this was the amount paid to a laboratory for tests.

According to our source in the Tax Department, among the mining companies owned by Vardan Ayvazyan, the leader is Hematite Ltd registered in the name of Hasmik Harutyunyan

(Yervand Hovhanisyan's wife) which made just one deal since its creation in the amount of 10 million drams (about $27,500). The sum was spent to pay experts out of money received from other customers for the preparation of mine exploration designs. Yervand Hovhanisyan's office is located on Alex Manoogian Street and occupies a floor in Minister Ayvazyan's real estate agency office.

Tigran Krmoyan's (assistant to the minister of Nature Protection) Interior Ltd, which holds licenses to explore the Batsat Lich, Sarnakhbyour, Tsis Kar, Zar, Arjasar and Nor gold sites, has not worked since its establishment, either. We remind you that the American Global Gold Corporation holds the rights to these mines. In fact, Minister Ayvazyan granted the second licenses to his assistant. There is another interesting fact – Vardan Ayvazyan appealed to the court asking it to prohibit Global Gold from exploring these sites.

The six companies owned by Vardan Ayvazyan holding 18 licenses for mine exploration have had just $30,000 in turnover since their creation, whereas according to Deputy Minister of Trade and Economic Development Tigran Davtyan, in 2006 alone, the volume of investments in the mining industry of Armenia amounted to $110 million. At the same time, the minister of Nature Protection has violated a number of laws. According to Article 18 of the Law on Concession, the amount that had been envisaged for exploration work and was not spent should be paid to the state.

Naturally, Yervand Hovhanissyan, who is responsible for assessing and monitoring mining activities at the State Nature Protection Inspection, has never inspected Ayvazyan's mines. Therefore, Minister Ayvazyan hasn't paid to the state that portion of the investments due as required by the law. Minister Ayvazyan has not, naturally, deprived himself of the licenses to explore the mines he owns because of the failure to do the required work.

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