Lydian Armenia’s Independent Advisory Panel issued its report on Amulsar gold mine project transiting to production phase later this year. The panel’s Annual report presented to the media yesterday praised Lydian’s management of social and environmental issues. However, the media presentation was sabotaged by a surprise protest of environmental activists claiming the experts group is an accomplice in the environmental disaster mining in Amulsar is likely to cause.
Lydian’s Advisory Panel concede in its report that some stakeholders express concerns around Lydian’s water management plan. However, the Panel expresses confidence that Lydian follows strict provisions for ensuring significant negative impacts. “The measures Lydian is planning to use are to some extent novel in the Armenian context, where the legacy of some examples of irresponsible mining is an understandable cause of scepticism”, the report says.
Besides overall appraisal the Advisory group makes recommendations to Lydian which, however, encourage raising transparency as well as address social and health issues. Epress.am inquired whether the panel has recommendations as to how to mitigate environmental risks.
‘We are trying to stay at the strategic level. They don’t want and they don’t need us as another level of auditing. They are being audited very strictly by people investing in the project for very good reasons. So we are trying to do several things. Plus we try to bring experience from around the world in terms of benchmarking performance against what’s happening in international standards, what’s happening to people exposed to other countries in other parts of the world. And it‘d be looking forward the into the details, we certainly look into details, we look into the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment, we look into the audit report, we look into compliance register listed documents, where that very detailed analyses is going on to making sure Lydian are complying but I don’t think our recommendations are not into that kind of level of detail if that’s what you are after՛, said panelist Jon Hobbs.
Note, another expert group issued yet less optimistic evaluations on Amulsar project. The latter group comprised of four international scholars urges Lydian to present more effective and protective mitigation measures to prevent contamination of water as well as to redesign the waste rock storage and heap leach facilities.
The activists breaking into the Lydian advisory group meeting read the conclusion of the four experts challenging Amulsar project viability.
“The Amulsar ESIA shows the predicted flow paths of contaminated water traveling from mining sources (waste rock, cyanide heap leach facility, open pits) to water resources during mine operation and closure. Contaminants from the waste rock pile will flow to the Kechut Reservoir and the Arpa River. The cyanide heap leach facility (where ore is place and will remain during closure) will partially cover a tributary flowing to the Arpa river, and contaminants are also predicted to flow to the Arpa River through groundwater. The Tigranes- Artavazdes Pit contaminants are predicted to flow to the Spandaryan-Kechut Tunnel, the Vorotan River, and the Darb River, which flows into the Arpa River. Lydian’s own data about the geologic complexities at the site show that sulfide minerals are present in the ore and waste and that it will not be possible to adequately separate them from ore, which means that there is a potential for long-term acid generation and contaminant release (even after lime addition) from the spent heap and the waste rock (..) Lydian concludes that all water pumped at the mine will be used in the mine processes. If their assumption proves wrong, which appears likely, mine-influenced water will need to be treated and discharged when the pits are created, but Lydian has presented no contingency to deal with this scenario. Lydian also assumes that the treatment needed starting in Year 5 of mining can be a less expensive, lower maintenance passive system rather than a more reliable active system such as lime precipitation’ one of the activists read.
One of the activists, Ani Khachatryan, was holding a bottle of polluted water taken from tailings of operating mines in Armenia as an illustration of the potential environmental damage that they foresee Lydian’s activity may cause.