On the traces of Alarm: Meeting with Meliq village residents

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On February 15, an unprecedented extensive discussion took place in Melikgyugh community of Aragatsotn province with the village residents, local officials, and representatives of environmental organizations, “Environmental Law” NGO, Environmental Alliance’s member NGOs, Aparan Aarhus Center and media.

Let me remind that recently the environmental organizations have received a call from a group of residents Meliq village on the public hearings held on February 10 by “Mego-Gold”

LLC and on February 12 by the MNP on the draft of construction of the new 3rd tailing dump of Toukhmanuk gold mine. The village residents were not informed about the hearing, which were held not in the affected community, but in Yerevan. Therefore residents of Meliq village were deprived of the opportunity and their right to express their position, opinions and recommendations on the issue directly related to their community.

In addition, the public hearings on the new draft of “MegoGold” were held in violation of the terms set out by the law: two public hearings at once, just in interval of one day, and the relevant institutions and organizations had only one day, instead of 30 days as provided by law, to assess and make remarks to the draft.

At the meeting the residents asked questions to the environmentalists on the issues related to their right to participate in the decision-making process regarding their community, on the order of holding public hearings, on recording recommendations and opinions, as well as the negative impact of the mine, plant and tailing dumps on the community and environment, reliability of operation of 18 million tons of proven gold reserves, the mine operation in opencast and closed methods, recultivation of the two tailing dumps without land allotment jurisdiction by the municipality’s and other matters.

The residents organized a petition, demanding the mine operating company to organize public hearings on the tailings draft not in Yerevan, but in Meliq village, with the participation of the local residents that they could express their opinion on the draft. During the discussion and signature collection held at the municipality A.Poghosyan, Director of “Mego Gold” LLC came to the village. The outraged residents of the community directly addressed a barrage of questions to the latter on the issues of tailing damps leaks, collapses, accidents, water contamination, soil fertility decline, non- payment of wages and other issues.
A. Poghosyan assured that the mine development will not cause environmental problems and that the company is discharging undertaken obligations.

The discussion was very heated, Poghosyan’s answers to a number of questions caused the residents anger, many questions remained unanswered, and the discussion remained unfinished as of a dispute broke out between mine workers and other residents.

Natalya Manukyan
Coordinator of Aparan Aarhus Centre
Tell: /374 252/ 6 23 60, /374 94/ 22 49 26
E-mail: info_aparan@aarhus.am, aarhusaparan@mail.ru