With this joint statement by the two organizations Arnika and NESEHNUTÍ, we respond to the latest developments in the Karaberd settlement in the Lori region of Armenia, where public hearings on the plan to expand the gold mining operations in Karaberd are being held on the November t 04.11.2022.
November 4, 2022
Given the circumstances mentioned below, we hereby express our opposition to the plan to expand the gold deposit in the Karaberd settlement. Thus, by making a joint statement, we appeal to the Armenian public, the local authorities of the Pambak community, and the regional government of the Lori region to prevent the plan to expand mining and express a negative opinion. We also call on the Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Armenia and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure of the Republic of Armenia to properly inspect the project in the future.
Arnika and NESEHNUTÍ are Czech NGOs that have long been addressing environmental and social issues in the Czech Republic and abroad. NESEHNUTÍ and Arnika's goal is to protect nature and a healthy environment for future generations at home and around the world. Arnika has long advocated for less waste and hazardous substances, living rivers and diverse nature, and the right of citizens to make decisions about the environment. For a quarter of a century, NESEHNUTÍ has been promoting the participation of locals in decision-making and civic campaigns not only in the Czech Republic but also in the South Caucasus and Southern Ukraine.
In 2018, Daniel Vondrouš, the then director of the Green Circle network of environmental organizations, attended a CivicBarcamp organized by NESEHNUTÍ in nearby Vanadzor, where he highlighted the impacts of gold mining and shared his experiences with the introduction of a ban on the use of cyanide in gold leaching in the Czech Republic. Now he is working as an advisor of the Ministry of the Environment of the Czech Republic.
Gold mining can never be environmentally friendly, and we, therefore, want to draw attention to and appeal to residents to be wary of the promises and decide together on the future of their community.
Mineral extraction has widespread adverse impacts on the environment and the health of mine and ore processing company employees and residents who live near these operations. Neglect of the necessary technological procedures, breach of waste management regulations, and inadequate technical security can reduce residents' quality of life and damage the countryside in the long term and irreversibly.
Mining risks include dust emissions, noise, potential accidents, and chemical spills into local streams and soil or lowering groundwater levels. Spills of chemicals used in mining and ore processing and metals in the ore itself  adversely affect human health. Data collected through pollution monitoring of mining communities in the Tumanyan and Stepanavan regions of Lori province, conducted between 2018 and 2021, confirmed these concerns. The results of Arnika's study highlight the presence of pollutants in the environment and the higher health burden on the communities in the region affected by mining compared to the population not exposed to these impacts.
NESEHNUTÍ's work has reaffirmed the interest of Armenian communities in transitioning to sustainable development and greater participation in environmental decision-making.
The above arguments highlight the risks faced by local communities and nature, which is why we call for the prevention of the expansion of the Karaberd gold mine.