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Seda Ghukasyan

Armenian Environment Minister Critical of Scope of Mining but Sidesteps Amulsar Mine Controversy

At a press briefing today at the Armenian parliament, newly appointed Minister of Nature Protection Erik Grigoryan flatly rejected the claim made by some that’s he represents the interests of Lydian Armenia, the 100% owned subsidiary of Lydian International which plans to operate the Amulsar gold mine

Grigoryan told reporters that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan offered him the job and he accepted.

“What does it mean to be Lydian’s representative? I represent the government and do my work. Let me repeat. If I had any outside interests, I wouldn’t have assumed the job,” Grigoryan said.

When asked what he thought about the Amulsar mine project, the minister said his position hasn’t changed since 2011.

“As a specialist and an environmentalist, I think the development of mining at this scope in Armenia isn’t correct because Armenia, from an ecodiversity point of view, is an important place in the world. I believe that the direction of development in Armenia should be more geared towards the IT sector. However, there are processes that started in the past and there’s an issue of rights,” Grigoryan said.

The minister noted that the project has received a positive environmental assessment and noted that Prime Minister Pashinyan has launched investigations into the operations of 28 mining companies.

“We have our suspicions that the amounts being mined today, and the pollutant levels, exceed those parameters as specified in the original permits,” the minister said, adding that all the mines now operating in Armenia would be investigated for environmental and other irregularities.