“Mining is against our combined interest as a people and nation,” Serj Tankian, an Armenian-American singer–songwriter best known as the lead vocalist of the Grammy Award-winning rock band System of a Down has written in response to a group of Armenian environmentalists who had reached out to the musician with a request to look into the goings on with the Teghut Forest.
The country’s leading environment protection groups and other non-governmental organizations have for years been campaigning against plans by the Armenian Copper Program (ACP) company to develop a massive copper and molybdenum deposit in the northern Lori region. The Teghut deposit is estimated to contain 1.6 million tons of copper and about 100,000 tons of molybdenum.
If implemented, the project will lead to the destruction of 357 hectares of rich forest, including 128,000 trees. Critics say that would wreak further havoc on Armenia’s green areas that have already shrunk dramatically since the 1990s.
In the statement made in response to the Armenian environmentalists, Serj Tankian also said: “The destruction of wildlife and environmental havens can no longer be excused for the sake of progress or the attainment of natural resources. Civilization walks a tight rope between survival of self and destruction of all. Based on our historical past and our current geopolitical reality, self reliance for food, water, and energy is extremely important. The destruction of wildlife and the resulting addition to carbons in the air have created the conditions for global warming that severely limit our self reliance.”
ACP admits the heavy environmental cost of its plans but says it will be more than offset by 1,400 new jobs which it has pledged to create in the economically depressed area. The Liechtenstein-registered company has also pledged to build new schools and make other investments in the local infrastructure. The project was formally approved in 2007 by then President Robert Kocharian and his government headed by Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
The environmentalists have been working hard and vocally against the project. One of their loud successes was the stir caused in the media as it emerged, that the wives of Kocharian and Sarkisian, former and current first ladies had signed a petition against the Teghut mining project approved by their husbands.
One of the Teghut campaigners told Ditord.com, that they had asked Serj Tankian to allow use of one of his songs for non-commercial campaigning purposes. A spokesman for the singer said they’ll look into the request and see if they have a song “that can be streamed on the [Teghut] website for non-commercial purposes.”
Tankian, an American-Armenian singer and songwriter, is known for his civil advocacy reflected in his compositions, including for his lobbying of the Armenian genocide affirmation, human rights and animal rights.
PS: ArmeniaNow has featured a very good article on it, which, however, has a bit of a misleading headline: “SOAD for SOS Teghut: Diaspora rock star responds to environmental campaign’s offer” Just to make it clear – Tankian is not SOAD!