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Kristine Aghalaryan

Raspberry Factor: Planned Gold Mine in Armenia's Lori Province Raises Red Flag for Farmers

Even though Miram LLC, a company that wants to operate a gold and multi-metal mine in Armenia’s northern Lori Province, says the mine will not negatively affect the local flora and fauna, area residents are somewhat wary.

The company, registered this May, has already filed a preliminary environmental impact assessment with the country’s ministry of nature protection, and says that it will spend 350,000 AMD on measures to protect the environment at the Shekaghbyur mine site.

Samvel Kirakosyan, the mayor of Artvi, one of the communities in the mine zone, told Hetq that residents know little about the project and have not agreed to anything as yet.

A public hearing is scheduled for July 26 in Artvi.

Kirakosyan says the community of 240 will wait for the project to be presented to them before they make a decision.

A deciding factor will be the mine’s potential impact on six hectares of raspberry fields that a collective of eight families manages in Artvi. Kirakosyan believes the collective can create some sixty seasonal jobs at a daily wage of 3,000-5,000 AMD.

“If the gold mine damages our raspberries, it means it will damage everything,” says the mayor. “If the experts ascertain it will have toxic exhausts, we will work to ban it. If people oppose it, it seems to me that the law will stop it.”

The largest shareholder (34%) of Miram LLC is Arayik Zadoyan. He’s also the director of Vaba LLC, owned by Vahram Baghdasaryan, who heads the Republican Party of Armenia’s faction in the parliament.