Against Mining: Syunik residents call for end of exploitation

Against Mining: Syunik residents call for end of exploitation


A number of non-governmental organizations in Armenia are planning to lodge a court claim against the Government of Armenia, demanding to annul all the government decrees on the uranium program in Syunik province.

“We will demand an international independent expertise, where independent experts will be involved. The government has to prove that the program is safe,” says Arthur Ghazaryan, legal consultant of ‘For Ensuring Ecological Security and Developing Democracy’ NGO.

The geological studies of the uranium mine in Lernadzor, are conducted by the Armenian-Russian Mining Company CJSC, 50 percent shares of which belong to the Government of Armenia.

Environmentalists say that uranium exploitation will harm the environment and the health of those people who live near the mine. They assure that uranium exploitation will contaminate Syunik province’s underground waters, flowing to the river Voghji. As a result of the uranium exploitation, the ecosystem of the region will be damaged, say opponents.

The ecological studies of the uranium program have raised a wave of discontent in Syunik. About 11,000 people have participated in a signature collection campaign against the program. Syunik residents participated in a picket organized in Kapan in early November. Deputy Governor of Syunik province Vache Grigoryan stated at the picket that “the province authorities were backing residents of Kapan, Syunik.”

Earlier the council of elders in the town of Kapan turned to the National Assembly and the Government of Armenia and urged them to cancel the uranium prospecting.

In June at a meeting with journalists, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Armen Movsisyan, said that uranium extraction would be done using modern, safe, technologies.

However, a drill burned out during the exploitation early this month. According to Ghazaryan: “The machine was so old (produced in 1950s-1960s) that the trademark wasn’t even visible.”