Toronto-listed Lydian International Limited announced on August 14 that an environmental audit commissioned by the Armenian government has found no grounds for a criminal prosecution of the gold mining company.
Lydian is developing Amulsar in Vayots Dzor Province, south-central Armenia, but the site has been blocked for months by protesters who say the project will result in significant pollution in the vicinity, although this has been denied by Lydian.
In March, the Armenian government started a third party audit of the Amulsar gold project to assess the impact of the project on water resources, geology, biodiversity and water quality. The assessment was carried out by Earth Link and Advanced Resources Development (ELARD).
“I must state that the investigative body has analysed the information and findings provided by the international audit report and found that there are no grounds for criminal prosecution and continuation of criminal proceedings,” Yura Ivanyan, head of the Department for Investigation of Corruption-related Property Crimes and Cybercrimes of the Special Investigative Committee of the Republic of Armenia, said during an interview on live television, as quoted in Lydian’s press release.
“Relieved report made public”
“We are relieved that the audit report has been made public, as the government of Armenia has repeatedly conditioned Lydian’s ability to advance the Amulsar Project on its results. … We are also heartened to know that there are no grounds for criminal prosecution or the continuation of criminal proceedings against Lydian relating to the Audit Report,” said Edward Sellers, interim president and CEO of Lydian, in his response to the news.
Lydian shares listed on the Toronto stock exchange were up sharply on the news.
According to the company, Amulsar is expected to be a large-scale, low-cost operation. Production is forecast to average around 225,000 ounces annually over an initial 10-year mine life. Estimated mineral resources contain 3.5mn measured and indicated gold ounces and 1.3mn inferred gold ounces.
Construction of the Amulsar mine started back in 2016, with Lydian expected to invest $370mn in the project. The campaign against the mine has lasted several years. In August last year, Lydian employees gathered outside the government building in Yerevan to appeal to the government to open a blockaded road and allow them to get to work. The situation late in the month when Lydian employees clashed with local residents near the resort town of Jermouk, Hetq reported, responding to the blockade of the mine by blocking the main highway to the town.