YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — A British-American mining company has accused a Lebanese-based consultancy of misleading the Armenian government about the environmental risks of its project to develop the Amulsar gold deposit in southeastern Armenia.
In a statement released late on Friday, August 30, the company, Lydian International, also challenged the government to name rival mining firms that have allegedly helped to disrupt the multimillion-dollar project.
“The Government of Armenia has said publicly that Lydian and the Amulsar Project have been the subject of a campaign by rival mining companies providing support to opponents of the Amulsar Project … When will the Government of Armenia identify the rival mining companies conducting this campaign, how much has been paid to oppose the Amulsar Project and who has been paid?” read the statement.
It apparently referred to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s comments made during an August 19 video address to the nation.
Pashinyan suggested that some of the other mining companies operating in the country have sponsored environmentalists’ campaigns against Lydian in an effort to scuttle the Amulsar project. He said they thus hope to avoid spending large sums of money on complying with “unprecedentedly high environmental standards” which the government is planning to enforce in Armenia’s entire mining industry.
Pashinyan signaled his government’s plans to allow mining operations at Amulsar, citing the written findings of an environmental audit of Lydian’s project conducted by ELARD, a consulting firm contracted by the government in February.