On March 7 and 8 2019, a delegation headed by Suma Chakrabarti, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was on a visit to Armenia. In contrast to the words of praise proliferating in the Armenian media over EBRD’s visit and activities in general, we would like to remind that this bank is one of Lydian International’s (Lydian) shareholders (10.5 mln CAD equity shares) and has financed the preliminary phases of the Amulsar Gold Mine Project (total around 16․3 mln CAD in equity financing). The bank continues to support and finance Lydian in the phase of construction in a spirit of absolute neglect of the numerous complaints and appeals sent by the local population, environmentalists, NGOs, other concerned people since 2013, as well as the online petition running up until now on change.org with a demand to stop financing of the Amulsar project. EBRD is also one of the large shareholders of Ameria Bank, which has in its own turn provided a loan to Lydian for the purpose of acquiring mining equipment worth 24 mln USD.
Lydian, servile media and EBRD itself, boasting of applying so-called “high international standards,” nothing else but the investment standards of the bank, are now face up to the termination of construction works by the people of Jermuk community and the overall resistance to opening a mine in the region. EBRD was well aware, that Performance Standard N 7 of its 8 investment standards, the one on the Indigenous people, was omitted by Lydian under the justification that there are no indigenous people in the area of the mining project, therefore there is no need to take measures to consult indigenous people and protect their interests. The mindset the company and the bank hold is, perhaps, one according to which indigenous are those peoples who have been oppressed or driven to extinction by colonizers. This is in itself a colonial mindset and accordingly, a colonial language which has turned against the company and bank engaged in modern economic colonization.
As for EBRD’s standards, the Balkani Wildlife Society’s study issued in January 2019, gives an in-depth analysis of which investment standards of EBRD the Amulsar Mining Project is not complying with and which exact international norms and conventions on biodiversity are violated.
Yet, in relation to the mining project’s social impact, EBRD mainly saw risks in terms of increased alcohol abuse and rise in crime in thee community, as well as an adverse gender impact in terms of emerging or expanding network of prostitution, transmission of STDs and increase in sexual violence, against which the mitigation measures proposed entailed distributing free condoms in the community and training women and girls. It is impossible to fancy a more perfunctory attitude to a mining project’s social impact in a town with a health spa economy.
With this statement, Armenian Environmental Front Civic Initiative, is expressing its criticism and non-confidence to EBRD for having financed and advanced the Amulsar Gold mine project in a status of complicity in violating national legislation of Armenia and international environmental conventions, as well as for financing (lending) projects that do not meet basic European standards, for example the one of building new landfills in Armenia instead of promoting waste recycling.
We also call on the government of Armenia to organize public consultations and receive public approval before conducting negotiations over transactions and new loan projects that will eventually sit on the shoulders of the people of Armenia.
Amulsar will remain a mountain! The indigenous people well neglected by EBRD, will not allow any entity to open a mine in Amulsar and the overall region of Vayots Dzor.