Amid ongoing disputes and heavy opposition by local residents blocking the mining activities at the Amulsar mountain, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has announced, that they will no longer provide funding to Lydian International’s controversial gold mining project, which experts say, will destroy the area’s ecosystem.
The EBRD, based in London, has provided funding for Lydian’s exploration, drilling and environmental studies for the $400 million gold mine since 2009. According to ELARD, an independent third party auditing firm, the environmental impact assessment provided by Lydian last year, was incomplete and therefore a final determination could not be made on whether the mining should resume.
Fidanka McGrath, EBRD policy officer at CEE Bankwatch Network stated that the EBRD owed the public an official apology for their involvement in the project and called Lydian’s recent provocation of local protesters as “despicable,” and a stain on the bank’s reputation.
Although local residents and environmental activists have held peaceful protests at the Amulsar site for over 2 years now, Lydian increased its security against protesters in the last week, leading to wide-scale arrests of protesters by Armenian law enforcement both at the site and in front of government buildings in Yerevan.
The Armenian government has not yet released an official statement on whether the project will continue. As of now, over 27 thousand people have signed a Change.org petition demanding closure of the mine.