YEREVAN, June 4. / ARKA /. Armenia’s ministry of nature protection estimates the total cost of all natural resources of the country to be about $120 billion, without drinking water reserves, which are estimated to cost approximately $9 billion, according to Esma Kreso, a World Bank environmental specialist, who spoke today at the presentation of two papers - “Sustainable and Strategic Decision Making in Mining” seeking to inform Armenia’s policy dialogue on environmental and social issues in the mining sector and “Enhancing Environmental and Social Sustainability of Mining in Armenia” seeking to mainstream and enhance the understanding of environmental and social sustainability principles in the development of Armenia’s mining sector.
She said these figures are very important because Armenia trades its mining products at global markets.
She said out of 65 licenses awarded for operation of mines 56 are for metal deposits and 5 for extraction of precious metals.
She also cited the data of the nature protection ministry that there are 17 tailings occupying an area of 700 hectares, while according to the ministry of emergency situations, the country has 19 tailings, whose total area is 1,400 hectares. Overall, mining facilities in Armenia occupy 8,275 hectares of land, she said.
She said the tailings pose a serious threat, because of leaks of heavy metals in the water, which is dangerous for the health of people living nearby and the environment, including communities located at the mouths of rivers.
She said mining companies operating in Armenia do not follow the best international practice in dealing with such problems. She said the government must demand that they comply with strict criteria for nature protection.
Adrana Damianova, a World Bank specialist, told reporters that the papers were prepared in collaboration with the ministries of nature protection and energy and natural resources. They will be finalized and submitted to these ministries.
She said after a meeting with nature protection minister the impression is that Armenian agencies are interested in these papers being willing to subsequently implement them.
She said the work on these papers began under the previous government and expressed hope that cooperation with new government would be as effective. -0-