Point of View

Kapan: Problems without Solutions


The forth largest city of Armenia Kapan faces the risk of desertification. The reason is the mining project of the Dino Gold Mining Company. According to the project the open-pit mining for Shahumyan's gold-polymetallic deposit is foreseen. However, according to the EcoLur, part of the mine is located right in the territory of the city and the explosions, dust and million tones of mining rocks with toxic elements will have a direct impact on the population of Kapan.

"Although, the project has not yet been presented for the ecological expertise, the Municipality, the Mayor of Kapan and the Government speak about the project as if it is already handed over for implementation", said the President of the informational NGO EcoLur Inga Zarafyan during the meeting with journalists on January 17. For the implementation of the project 50 000 trees have to be cut. For that purpose only a Government decree on modification of the land category is needed. As a rule, that kind of decrees are issued by the following wording: recognize the land as the prevailing public interest.  This argument is used whenever a private company intends to increase its profit on the expense of public and national property -gold, copper, molybdenum, zinc, silver, iron and uranium.

However, the coordinator of the Ecological Social Union Silva Adamyan said that implementation of the project will be profitable only for several businessmen but will be harmful for most of the people. For example, the number of abnormal births already is higher than it might expected.  

Mrs. Adamyan added that the Ecological Social Union and Inga Zarafyan are planning to write an open letter to the "Dundee Precious Metals" Canadian Company in order to present possible devastating situation in the case if the companies implement their projects.  They are also planning to meet representatives of the European bank in order to try to stop this process and do not allow the enhancement of the process.

The President of "Ecodar" NGO Hrayr Savzyan spoke about the actions of young activists. He stressed out that besides joining the letter, the activists of Yerevan and Kapan are planning to organize a camp in Kapan in order to physically hinder tree cutting when it start.  

During the meeting the participants said that although the official statements regarding the launch of the project have not been made, they are trying to prevent further actions today.

However, we think that it is necessary to stress out that this project has deeper roots and when paying attention to the facts, question rises, ''Isn't it too late to refer to this issue now?''. Firstly, we would like to mention that the Armenian "Deno Gold Mining" (DGMC) and Canadian "Dundee Precious Metals" companies signed a contract of 10 million USD investment in Kapan mining factory on August 10, 2010. Before that, these companies made an obligation to buy the premises from the residents on the market price for implementation of the project.

At the beginnin of the 2010 the residents applied to the court with the demand to prevent the actions threatening their health and life. On February 17, 2010 in the Court of First Instance of Syuniq marz General Manager of the company Robert Falletta and the legal representative of 20 plaintiffs, defense lawyer Irina Manukyan signed the out-of-court settlement. According to the settlement, the property of the residents was put on sale and the company was obliged to buy that property on the market prices. According to the Management and Public Relations Senior of the company Norayr Aghayan, the company was to pay reparation not only to the plaintiffs but also to all the others. Therefore, the lists were drawn. Calculations and inventory was done by the specially licensed organization from Yerevan.   

The overall process, including the payment finished in April, 2010. The residents were advised not to cultivate their lands because the place will be turned to the open mine.

It was mentioned that the opening of the mine will create new job opportunities. However, precise numbers and dates were not indicated. «Ecological Security and Democracy Development» NGO again lodged a complaint against the company and demanded to oblige the company to allocate the information concerning the checking of the RA Ministry of Nature Protection conducted in 2009.  

However the response has not been received so far. As Norayr Aghayan said, according to the RA Law on Freedom of Information, the companies like «Dino Gold Mining» are not obliged to allocate the information. (Part 2 of the Article 1 of the RA Law on Freedom of Information defines the type of organizations that fall under the sphere of operation of the law. These are state and local self-government bodies, state offices, organizations financed from the state budget, as well as private organizations of public importance and their state officials. Article 3 of the Law defines the meaning of the notion "organizations of the public importance". These are private organizations that have monopoly or a leading role in the goods market, as well as those providing services to public in the sphere of health, sport, education, culture, social security, transport, communication and communal services.

Thus, when everything is more or less clear, and it seems that all the issues are settled, the actions planned by ecologists such as open letters maybe considered as ill-timed. However, it is worthy to rely on Hrayr Savzyan's and other young ecologist's unity and physical resistance.

Sofia Manukyan

Source www.hra.am