Gold or Life? The environmental situation in Armenia

It is difficult to assume that huge environmental pollution problems are possible in a small country like Armenia, but in fact, the earth’s crust is rich in iron, copper, molybdenum, zinc, gold and other metals, and therefore, environmental pollution by miners has become quite a topical issue. Currently, there are around 400 operating mines. The Armenian economy hugely depends on the mining industry, and it also is the main sector of job creation.

The exploitation of mines in Armenia leads to environmental pollution and residents having various health problems at an early age. As a result of mining, the number of deforestation has significantly increased, and the area of arable lands has decreased. The waters of tailings, polluted with heavy metals, quite often flow into rivers, lakes and are absorbed into the soil, which leads to the poisoning of groundwater/artesian water.

Though there are so many mines already existing in the country, in 2016 another corporation received the right to open a gold mine in the area of Amulsar mountain. And as the government changed in 2018, environmental activists started huge protests for stopping their actions in that area, with the slogan “Let the mountain be a mountain”.

This turned into a big movement, and while the question of opening the mine is still up in the air, the minister of economy has recently made a statement, saying that the Amulsar mine has the chance of turning into the number 1 tax payer in the country.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, are claiming that this mine in going to affect the nearby cities, and the popular spa city Jermuk is no longer going to be the “healthiest” place in the country.

Though the governments arguments can also be understood, but however valuable gold is, there is nothing more valuable than human lives.

Or isn’t it so anymore?

Knarik Karaminasyan

Yerevan, Armenia

The project is co-funded by the European Solidarity Corps.

Author: European Volunteers in Poland

A blog curated by volunteers taking part in European Solidarity Corps initiative in Poland and coordinated by Active Woman Association

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