Profit from Mine Extraction in Armenia Far Greater than Money Paid into Budget: Environmentalist
Environmentalist Karine Danielyan believes it’s welcoming when as in the case of Qajaran, it is the residents themselves who are fighting for their rights and joining environmentalists. Recall, the residents of the village of Kajaran are against a government decision that re-appropriated communal land in several communities in the southeastern Armenian province of Syunik as “public priority interest” land, which subsequently will be handed over to Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine.
“The struggle of Qajaran, Hrazdan and Tsaghkadzor residents [who are opposed to iron mine exploitation in Hrazdan] is very important, and this has to set an example for all those who are simply silent in such cases. We had successes in the cases of Trchkan Waterfall and Khosrov Reserve; in the case of Sevan [raising the water level, cleaning the shoreline], we likewise obtained victory, but this doesn’t mean that our youth are forced to fight against this type of harassment by the authorities using such measures,” she said.
According to Danielyan, the Armenian state is moving toward increasing exports and that’s a good thing, but only if it’s able to do so the right way.
“A significant portion of exports are metals, metallic ore. Now we’re exporting the raw material. If it’s a non-metal mine, we don’t complain that much, though it too harms the environment, but at least the surrounding area isn’t poisoned. If it’s a metal mine, then there’s heavy metal poisoning, chemical poisoning. They destroyed Teghut [forest]; now they’re destroying Hankavan; there’s the iron mine hanging over Hrazdan’s head, which will damage tourism in Tsaghkadzor and the Hrazdan river. And Jermuk is threatened with Amulsar, where they have found gold and uranium,” she said.
According to the environmentalist, Qajaran (also spelled Kajaran) is that area having important potential that is able to expand endlessly and now this expansion has to happen at the villagers’ expense.
“We, NGOs, sent a joint letter to the president and prime minister of Armenia, urging them to stop such activities,” she said.
Danielyan also cited a remark by a Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources representative (who she did not name) who during a discussion months ago said: “Yeah, so what? If it turns out that there’s mine beneath Yerevan and Sevan, yeah, we have to exploit it.”
This is the idea and we’re still running with it, she said.
“It’s good when they’re thinking about an export plan, but that doesn’t mean that they have to think about this without providing for the domestic market. As a result, it’s already the second year that Armenian apricots and mutton are being exported — depriving the domestic consumer of access to these goods,” she said.
Danielyan is sure that the profit from extraction of geological materials from the earth is far greater than the money paid into budget.
“At today’s prices, extracted from the earth are gems that bring in huge amounts of money at market prices. All the laws related to extraction create very favorable, ideal conditions for foreign companies. Whoever comes to Armenia is interested in our earth; they all want to know what’s in our earth,” she said.
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