YEREVAN, August 18. /ARKA/. Armenian environmentalists have announced the launch of a new SOS Sevan initiative, which includes a series of protest actions against the harmful effects of Sotq gold deposit on the country’s largest fresh water Lake of Sevan, Inga Zarafyan, chairwoman of an environmental NGO said today.
The Sotq gold mine and the Ararat gold recovery plant are owned and operated by GPM GOLD, a member of Russian group of companies GeoProMining.
Speaking at a news conference Ms. Zarafyan said the open pit mining method used to develop the deposit located near Lake Sevan may cause serious damages not only to the environment but also to the lake itself.
"There should be no industrial activity around the lake. In Soviet times, no open pit mining method was used, and all that was mined there was transported to the Ararat gold recovery factory. Now almost all the mine is developed by open pit mining method; increasing the dust load several times," Zarafyan said.
In response to a question from ARKA, she said the actions of environmentalists will be directed "against the illegal activities of the company" and "limiting the adverse effects on Lake Sevan".
Earlier, the press service of GPM GOLD said that the crushing machine operated at the mine is in full compliance with Armenia’s environmental law.
Zarafyan also said she had repeatedly asked the ministry of environment protection to assess the damage of dust load to the lake, but the ministry ignored her appeals.
In early 2012 March head of the presidential commission on Lake Sevan, Vladimir Movsisyan said that a working group formed by the ministry of energy planned to consider whether the crushing unit at the mine complied with environmental requirements.
Zarafyan said the presidential commission on Lake Sevan is to publish soon a conclusion on operation of the crushing unit at Sotq mine and she asked the commission to be provided with a copy.
GPM GOLD declined a comment when requested by ARKA, saying another public hearing on the matter will be held on August 23, when it will offer further information.
In April 2011, at the request of the government the Armenia the ministry of energy and natural resources formed a commission to review the documentation of GPM GOLD LTD on the legality of operating the crushing machine and confirmed the legitimacy of the company’s activity.
GeoProMining was founded in 2001. In Armenia it owns two assets – the Agarak Copper-Molybdenum Combine and GPMGold, developing the Sotk gold mine and running Ararat gold recovery factory. -0-