By Abdul Kerimkhanov
The situation around the Amulsar gold mine in Armenia creates more and more problems for the current Armenian leadership.
The Amulsar project is the largest industrial project in Armenia for the development of the Amulsar gold ore deposit with a total value of $370 million. The Amulsar deposit is located in the south of Armenia, in the town of Jermuk. Lydian Armenia CJSC, which is an Armenian mineral exploration and development company, has been exploring the field since 2007 and received a production permit back in 2015, but due to additional environmental requirements, it was not allowed to start production.
On August 19, Pashinyan announced that the Amulsar mine could work, as the new environmental assessment did not identify risks for Jermuk and Sevan Lake, and the risks for the surrounding rivers are minimal and manageable. These statements provoked a sharp protest from eco-activists.
Armenian media point to the possibility of a split within the My Step bloc of Armenian Parliament due to the exploiting of the Amulsar gold mine. Today, about 30 MPs of the faction oppose the field development.
At a meeting of the faction, these parliamentarians presented their arguments against the exploitation of the Amulsar mine. If the Armenian authorities finally decide to resume development, it is possible that the opposing deputies will create an "autonomous group" within the faction.
Hovik Agazaryan, who is a member of the My Step bloc, made the situation even tenser. He said that if the Amulsar issue is indeed a matter of principle for his fellow MPs, then they are free to leave the faction.
Arsen Kharatyan, ex-adviser to the Armenian PM, has stated that the ruling My Step bloc’s MPs, who oppose the mining project in Amulsar, could create a separate “green” parliamentary group. He said that a “green party” may appear in the political field and gain strength.
Armenian political scientist Armen Baghdasaryan considers that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s team members should take political responsibility for the decision on Amulsar.
Baghdasaryan emphasized that some members of the bloc and political team must clearly express their position. He added that if they are members of a political team, they should take political responsibility, and not to try to hide away, which is completely wrong.
He noted that there should be a serious discussion on this issue. Baghdasaryan believes that protests and environmental movements, the discontent of several hundreds or thousands of environmentalists and activists are becoming the subject of political manipulation.
He mentioned that some issues are getting complicated, opposition forces are expecting huge fines to be paid as a result of the Amulsar mine closure, adding that these forces hope to increase their political chances after this event.
Baghdasaryan pointed out that in the Amulsar case, the current Armenian government should be guided not by populist slogans, but by state interests.
In turn, political analyst Grant Mikaelyan considers that the Armenian PM does not have a clear decision on the Amulsar field, and his current position is due to external pressure.
He reminded that the international investors have made it clear that there will be no investment in Armenia, and also recalled about the risk of getting a $2 billion lawsuit. That is why, he added, Pashinyan considered that refusing to launch this field would be too risky.
Mikaelyan emphasized that in economic terms, the profit from Amulsar deposit will not be significant. The expert noted that the mine development will provide some additional revenues to the budget, but in the long term it will not have big significance for the country's economy.
Abdul Kerimkhanov is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow him on Twitter: @AbdulKerim94
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