Armenian NGO challenges controversial ECA supported gold mine

(Armenian Environmental Front, Yerevan, 11 February 2018) In February 2017, the Armenian Environmental Front (AEF) published information on supporters of a gold mine in Amulsar Mountain next to the resort of Jermuk. They now have presented the key entities responsible for funding and equipping the Amulsar gold mine project. The AEF is challenging plans to develop a gold mine in close proximity to the environmentally sensitive Jermuk resort in violation of Armenian legislation. Environmental and social impact assessments are said to be substantially incomplete and incorrect and international expert groups from Australia, USA and Canada, having studied dozens of documents available on the Lydian International corporate website, have presented their assessments and conclusions on the environmental risks of the gold project in Amulsar. They note: "Our overall conclusion remains that the high risk of acid drainage and contaminant leaching, the poor geochemical evaluation, the inadequate water quality predictions and mitigation measures and Lydian’s inexperience combine to make this an environmentally high-risk project during mining and for a lengthy period after operations cease." The AEF notes that a number of ECAs and international finance bodies have supported the project, among them: SEK - Sweden’s Export Credit Corporation (US$50 million via Dutch ING Bank); EKN - Swedish Export Credit Agency (Guarantees for the SEK credit); Sandvik SRP AB – a Swedish mining equipment company (recipient of the SEK & EKN support); the Swiss-Swedish ABB Group; the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group (IFC's compliance branch concluded in 2017 that there were "shortcomings in IFC’s appraisal and supervision of the project as relate to a  number of the issues raised in the complaints and found that IFC’s pre-investment E&S review of the project was not commensurate to risk.";  and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) (Which has apparetnly refused to respond to the arguments of Armenian ecological organizations concerning social and ecological risks of the project and continues to support it.)