Armenian environmentalists make their case through protests

Following a protest-action staged in front of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Yerevan Office, representatives of Armenian environmental groups were received at the EBRD and made their case against a major copper mining project which will lead to the destruction of vast forest areas near Teghut village of the Lori region.

Valeriu Razlog, head of the EBRD Yerevan RO promised to consider the call presented by the environmentalists and come back at a later time.

According to the agreement signed in January 2009, Russian bank VTB will receive 10mln credit from the EBRD for funding of small and medium-sized enterprises in Armenia. It is known that VTB is planning to provide 250mln credit to the Armenian Copper Programme (ACP) for development of the Teghut copper-molybdenum mine. Environmental groups in Armenia claim, that through collaboration with the VTB, EBRD is indirectly supporting the destruction of the Teghut forest.

ACP has already launched logging activities and cut down 55 hectares of 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 nearly 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 and result in the destruction of as much as 2000 hectares of forest.