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29 Jul 2019

Kristine Aghalaryan, Hetq

Mining Caucasian gold: Corporate profits come at a high price

...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...