Dangerous mining: A deep hole is dug in search of uranium in Lernadzor

In spite of public discontent and pickets, the prospecting work for uranium continued in the village of Lernadzor, Kapan, and a 140-meter-deep bore-hole has already been mined.

While the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Armenia said that the prospecting work was safe and ore samples would be taken from no more than 20-centimeter depth, but the mined deep bore-hole, according to specialists, is already seriously dangerous.

“Digging of the bore means that ore samples are taken out to the surface. They may contain uranium, and be dangerous to people and the environment,” says Karine Danielyan, Chairwoman of ‘For Sustainable Human Development’ NGO, a member of the Public Council of Armenia.

In spite of serious pickets and protests, held in Kapan in November, when about 11,000 signatures were collected against the (uranium exploitation) program, the government and the Armenian-Russian Mining Company CJSC did not halt the uranium program, giving assurances that it would be safe.

Meanwhile, specialists insist that even if the uranium extraction is done using modern, safe, technologies, the uranium mine exploitation will result in a serious ecological disaster.

“The exploitation of the copper-molybdenum mine in the Syunik province has already seriously damaged the ecology, and in the case with uranium, we simply tell people to leave the nearby territory,” Danielyan says.

According to environmentalist Danielyan, the uranium program is dangerous even in case if the mine works are held underground, something that specialists of the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources of Armenia assured.

“First of all, there is no experience of closed-pit mining in Armenia, and international specialists say that the current technologies do not secure a non-pollution exploitation of uranium mines. Even if the works are held underground, the crust of the earth and the underground waters will be polluted, and it is very dangerous, too,” Danielyan says.