I just read an article on RFE/RL reporting that the main financier of the proposed environmentally devastating mining project in Armenia’s Teghut Forest has put a hold in transferring funds. The Russian bank VTB was set to provide the Armenian Copper Program (ACP) with a $280 million loan to get started with mining projects.
That decision was mostly if not entirely based on protests by Armenian environmentalist groups lead by the Save Teghut Forest movement.
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) mining company to develop a massive copper and molybdenum deposit in the Lori region. The Teghut deposit is estimated to contain 1.6 million tons of copper and about 100,000 tons of molybdenum.
The project, if implemented, 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.
This is fantastic news for advocates of protecting Armenia’s fragile ecosystem. However, residents of that area in northern Armenia may not be cracking open the champagne just yet. ACP had promised to create 1,400 new jobs and build new schools. But many Armenian corporations never make due on their promises, especially related to charitable or benevolent undertakings that benefit society. Vivacell is one such company immediately coming to mind that does good, including producing public service announcements on television that campaign against littering. Personally, I’m all for job creation in rural areas on Armenia, but not at the expense of forests, which are slowly but surely being eradicated. Nevertheless, something else has to be planned for job creation if the project never comes to fruition, although it’s hard to believe that it won’t.
This victory is huge. It just shows that lobbying and protesting by special interest advocate groups can change things detrimental to society at large in their favor. It will encourage thousands of Armenian citizens to start struggling for what they believe in, despite threats of being beaten or arrested. It means that people are once again finding the courage and inspiration to stand up for themselves.
Kudos to the Armenian environmentalists. By all means, don’t give up the fight!