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World Bank Mining Practices ‘Impoverish’ Armenia, Environmentalists Claim

The World Bank constantly states that its “stable and responsible” mining practices contribute to the development of countries, but in reality they lead to the impoverishment of small countries such as Armenia, member of Pan-Armenian Environmental Front Levon Galstyan declared today during a demonstration outside the American University of Armenia in Yerevan where the local office of the World Bank was holding a discussion on a draft environmental management plan in the mining industry. 

A group of civil society representatives and local environmentalists had also been invited to the discussion; however, they decided to boycott the invitation and picket the AUA building instead, holding posters that read “Hands off Armenia,” “No Mining in Amulsar,” and “You Mine, We Die.” The demonstrators also handed an open letter to the discussion participants addressed to the Yerevan office of the World Bank.

“The aim of these meetings is to legitimize mining. We, however, boycott them as we do not want to legitimize their decisions with our participation. We don't want mining devouring our country,” protester Ani Khachatryan said.

The demonstrators claimed that their open letter underlined some “fundamental contradictions” because of which environmentalists had refused to take part in today's conference. “The World Bank claims that the mining industry would stimulate economic growth in Armenia, but for what and for whose sake, is unclear. The World Bank not only openly contributed to the destructive mining project in Amulsar, but also advocated direct equity interests of its group member International Finance Corporation in the offshore company 'Lydian International.'

“[…] We assert that 'responsible mining' is a myth, since the lack of social control, the weakening of control laws and regulations, the elimination of agencies and departments for the protection of workers' interests, as well as the absence or the formal nature of environmental regulations only serves the interests of private companies and their sponsors while everyone else loses and nature is destroyed,” the letter, in particular, read.