Armenia: Abuses by gold mining companies include air & water pollution, health & safety abuses, workplace discrimination, says new report; incl company comments

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Article
29 July 2019

Mining Caucasian gold: Corporate profits come at a high price

Author: Kristine Aghalaryan, Hetq

...Hetq has revealed that Russian businessmen, via various offshore companies, are extracting gold from the most profitable mines in Armenia and Georgia. These companies, in turn, are linked to diverse Russian government circles. In Armenia, former and current government officials, their relatives and associates, have been issued mining permits as well...Millions of dollars in profit flow to those extracting and exporting the mineral resources of Armenia. However, citizens of Armenia know next to nothing about who is getting rich from mining the resources of their country...Sotk is the largest gold mine in Armenia...Locksmith Ruben Grigoryan, who worked at the Sotk mine and was dismissed...says that the when explosives are set off in the open mine area, they mix with ammonia and saltpeter and seep into the underground water reserves. The company then pumps the water into a village river that feeds into the Metz Masrik River which eventually flows into Lake Sevan. The company makes sure to conceal the entire process from the eyes of local residents...Former Sotk mine employees say that faulty methods were used to dig to a depth of 250-300 meters at the open pit mine. It’s dangerous, and miners often refuse to extract the ore. They’re afraid of being buried in landslides from above. Those protesting such conditions are advised to resign...Ruben Grigoryan says the company isn’t concerned with the health of its workers, and that tragic accidents often occur due to inadequate regulations. Such accidents have claimed four lives in the past few years.  A dump truck driver died last year while releasing his cargo...

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Company response
29 July 2019

Response by GeoProMining Gold LLC

Author: GeoProMining Gold LLC

...The report raises several troubling and at times inaccurate allegations about either GPM Gold’s or its affiliate’s environmental and human rights performance. These matters have been responded to in considerable detail to the authors of the report but they have failed to make it public...GPM Gold is committed to sound environment stewardship and works to achieve this through implementation of monitoring of air emissions, water discharges, underground water and soil quality which are carried out at our operations, including at the mines, processing facility and nearby localities on a monthly basis. Such monitoring is performed by licenced experts authorised by the relevant environmental authorities...Our facilities undergo regular safety inspections by state authorities and safety certificates are issued for each facility which are required for operating the facilities, and GPM Gold has successfully obtained these in the past. GPM Gold regularly analyses potential risks, develops measures to reduce these risks and reduce consequences of industrial accidents and conducts worker-safety training and updates internal safety regulations...GPM Gold has taken, and will continue to take, a good-faith effort to engage broadly and constructively on social, environmental and human rights matters. 

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