Lydian International’s President assures contaminants emerging from Amulsar mine operation won’t flow into environment
YEREVAN, OCTOBER 18, ARMENPRESS. Prime Minister of Armenia Karen Karapetyan recently hosted a group of investors headed by Howard Stevenson - the President and CEO of Lydian International which is engaged in implementing Amulsar Gold Project.
Mr. Stevenson answered some questions of ARMENPRESS on the investment environment of Armenia and the progress of Amulsar project.
-A group of Lydian International investors were hosted by the Armenian Prime Minister last week. We would like to hear your impressions of the meeting. Lydian is the largest investor in the country, what were the impressions of your investors on Armenia's investment field? What issues were discussed?
-Armenia is a country that many of our institutional investors have never visited and it is extremely important that they meet different stakeholders and gain confidence that this is a good investment destination. The group included different groups of investors and analysts who cover market trends. They represent Canadian, British, American and European banks, funds and institutions. The visitors were interested in Armenia’s investment policy, economic perspective, the Government’s projections on upcoming economic developments. I want to thank the Prime Minister and the Government of Armenia for hosting the group and for showing Armenia’s openness to foreign investments. This is extremely important as the message goes back to the international markets and not only in the mining sector.
-The construction works have started last September, you plan to have the first gold pour in 2018, at what stage is the program now?
-The project is in active construction stage. We have started building infrastructure. We have already invested more than half of the promised 370 million USD into the construction. There is a lot of activity at site and I believe there is already very visible economic growth in the surrounding communities. We have more than 1200 people working on the construction and over 30% of the workforce come from local communities. In the recent months, the project created local procurement opportunities worth over hundred thousand dollars per month and this reflects hugely on the economy of the region. By this time next year, we expect to have the project up and running at full capacity.
-How do you take the criticism from activists? What is your response?
-I take it with a lot of understanding. Armenia, as many post-Soviet countries have had a negative experience of mining. Actually, even in the US where I come from mining 30 years ago and mining today are absolutely different in terms of improved technologies and environmental management. In Armenia, there have not been many examples of modern mining and the skepticism and the lack of trust is somewhat understandable. But modern mines today have modern facilities with engineered solutions to prevent uncontrolled leakages and seepages into the environment. Contaminants don’t just flow into the environment; it is prevented by a lot of systems built into the design of the mine. In fact, if you go to Amulsar construction site you will see how multiple drainage systems are built, how protective layers are put under the infrastructure. These are all modern means and solutions we use at Amulsar. I have seen this work very well in dozens of mines I have worked in from the US to South America and elsewhere and this is how we build the project in Armenia. I do understand the concerns, though, and we will be happy to host stakeholders at site who would want to see how we build the project.