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Mineral industry of Armenia

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Mineral industry of Armenia

Armenia's largest mine, the Kajaran copper-molybdenum open-pit mine in southern Armenia is operated by the Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Combine and is 75% owned by the German CRONIMET company
The Teghut Mine (opened in December 2014) contains a copper and molybdenum deposit valued at over $15 billion USD and has destroyed over 350 acres of Armenia's little-remaining forested land. The operator of the mine, Vallex Group, will pay only about 10% of revenues in taxes.

The mineral industry is one of the main sectors of the Armenian economy and as of 2011 accounted for over half of the country's exports.[1]

Armenia is a major producer of molybdenum. The Zangezur copper-molybdenum complex possesses large molybdenum reserves that are concentrated in the Kajaran deposit. Besides molybdenum, Armenia has significant deposits of copper and gold; smaller deposits of lead, silver, and zinc; and deposits of industrial minerals, including basalt, diatomite, granite, gypsum, limestone, and perlite.[2]

In spite of the global economic crisis of 2008, mining production and revenues grew significantly in 2009 due to a rise in global prices of copper, gold, and other base metals.[1]

Mines

According to the Armenian Development Agency, Armenia has more than 670 mines of construction and aggregate minerals, including 30 base metal and precious metal mines.[1] Among these mines, about 400 mines, including 22 base metal, non-ferrous metal and precious metal mines are currently being exploited.[1]

Among the base metal and precious metal deposits, there are 7 copper-molybdenum mines, 3 copper mines, 13 gold and gold-polymetallic mines, 2 polymetalilc mines and 2 iron ore mines.[1]

In addition to those mines registered in the state inventory of mineral resources, there are an additional 115 deposits of various deposits that have been discovered.[1]

Metallic mineral deposits[1]
Name Metals mined Province Nearest town GPS coordinates Ore processing Tailing dam(s) Company exploiting mine
Mghart Mine Gold Lori Mghart village
Exploratory work and ore extraction reported[3]
On-site enrichment plant[3]
3 tailing dams on site[3]
MultiGroup (owned by Gagik Tsarukyan, via Mghart Gold Enrichment Plant)[3]
Shamlugh Mine Copper Lori Shamlugh Metal Prince Ltd.
Armanis Gold, Copper, Zinc, Lead Lori Armanis village (approximate) Global Metals (via Sagamar CJSC), formerly Metal Prince Ltd.
Teghut Mine Copper, Molybdenum Lori Teghut village On-site (proposed) On-site (proposed) Vallex Group (via Teghout CJSC)
Akhtala Copper Lori Akhtala On-site adjacent to Akhtala monastery Metal Prince Ltd.
Akhtala Barite Lori Akhtala
Alaverdi Copper Lori Alaverdi Vallex Group (via Armenian Copper Programme CJSC)
Tandzut Gold oxide Lori Vallex Group (via Armenian Copper Programme CJSC)
Tukhmanuk Gold, Silver[4] Aragatsotn Melikgyugh (according to company map)[4] Global Gold Corporation
Meghradzor Gold Kotayk GeoProMining[4]
Abovyan Iron (Magnetite) Kotayk Bounty Resources Armenia (35% owned by the Chinese company Fortune Oil)
Hrazdan Iron Kotayk Bounty Resources Armenia (35% owned by the Chinese company Fortune Oil)
Hankavan Copper, Molybdenum Kotayk Hankavan Exploratory work underway[5] GeoProMining (via Golden Ore, LLC)[6][7] (license dispute with Global Gold Corporation)
Tezhasar Nepheline syenite Kotayk Meghradzor Alumina Corporation LLC
Meghradzor (Lusajur section) Gold Kotayk Paramount Gold Mining Ltd. (owned by RA National Assembly President Hovik Abrahamyan and MO Tigran Arzakantsyan)[8]
Getik Gold, Silver, Uranium[9] Gegharkunik Getik, Gegharkunik Exploratory work in progress[9] Global Gold Corporation
Sotk Mine Gold Gegharkunik Sotk Off-site at Ararat Gold Recovery Company in Ararat town GeoProMining (via GPM Gold)
Azatek Gold, polymetallic Vayots Dzor Vayk Azatek Gold Ltd.
Ownership:
  • 74% owned by Anglo-African Minerals plc
  • 26% by Alrosa)
Gladzor Copper, Lead, Zinc[5] Vayots Dzor Exploratory work underway[5] GeoProMining[5]
Sofi Bina Gold Vayots Dzor
Amulsar Mine Gold Vayots Dzor Jermuk On-site (Proposed) On-site (Proposed) Geoteam CJSC (100% owned by Lydian International Limited which is registered on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands)
Kajaran Mine Copper, Molybdenum Syunik Qajaran On-site at Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine CJSC
ZCMC CSJS ownership:
  • 60% CRONIMET Mining AG
  • 15% The Plant of Pure Iron” OJSC (owned by CRONIMET)
  • 12.5% by Armenian Molybdenum Production Ltd., 12.5% by Zangezour Mining Ltd)[1]
Shahumyan Gold, Copper, Zinc, Lead, Silver Syunik Shahumyan village Dundee Precious Metals Inc. (via Deno Gold Mining Company)
Agarak Mine Copper, Molybdenum Syunik Agarak town near Agarak at Multiple:
GeoProMining (since 2007,[5] via Agarak Copper-Molybdenum Mine Complex)
Kapan Copper, Molybdenum Syunik Dundee Precious Metals Inc. (via Deno Gold Mining Company)
Lichqvaz-Tey Gold, Copper, Silver Syunik Meghri Global Metals (since December 2010, via LV Gold Mining) (formerly Tamaya Resources (formerly Iberian Resources)[4])
Dastakert Copper, Molybdenum Syunik Dastakert village Global Metals (via Molibdeny Ashkharh LLC)
Lichq Copper Syunik
Terterasar Gold Syunik Meghri Tamaya Resources (since 2005, via Iberian Resources via Sipan-1)[4][10]
Hankasar Copper, Molybdenum Syunik Geghi village[11] On-site On-site[11] Ler-Ex Ltd.[12] (Owned by Governor of the Syunik Region Suren Khachatryan[13])
Aygedzor Gold, Copper, Molybdenum Syunik Meghri Tamaya Resources (since 2005, via Iberian Resources via Sipan-1)[10]
Bardzradir (Mazra) Gold Syunik Tsav, Armenia Exploration work underway (as of June 2012)[14] Opulent Trading Solutions[14]
Svarants Iron Syunik Svarants village Bounty Resources Armenia (35% owned by the Chinese company Fortune Oil)
Marjan Gold, Silver Syunik Arevis[15] Exploration work underway
[15]
Global Gold Corporation
Drmbon Mine Gold, Copper Martakert Province, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Drmbon village On-site at Multiple:
Vallex Group (via Base Metals CJSC)
Kashen Copper Martakert Province, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic near the villages of Vardadzor, Tchankatagh, and Tzaghkashen)[16] On-site (proposed)[16] Vallex Group (via Base Metals CJSC[16])

Production

The open-pit Agarak copper mine in the town of Agarak in the southern Syunik province
The copper smelter at Alaverdi in Armenia's northern Lori province
A general view of the massive toxic tailing dump of the Ararat gold processing facility in the town of Ararat where gold from the Sotq mine is extracted
Ararat tailing dump with the town of Ararat in the background

In 2005, seventeen mining and metallurgical enterprises were in operation; the largest enterprises mined copper and molybdenum ore or extracted gold from tailings. The country also produced aluminum foil based on raw materials imported from Russia and had a diamond cutting industry using imported raw materials. The country had almost no domestic fuel production and relied for electric power on a nuclear powerplant and hydroelectric plants. It imported fuel for its nuclear powerplant and natural gas from Russia.[2]

The value of mineral production in 2005 totaled $180 million or about 5% of the gross domestic product(GDP). Mining and nonferrous metallurgy accounted for 55% of the value of industrial production. The mineral sector accounted for 11% of the value of the country’s capital stock.[2]

In 2005, in the aggregate, the volume of metallic ores mined decreased although nonmetallic ore production increased. The volume of output in both the ferrous and nonferrous metallurgical sectors increased compared with output in 2004. The output volume of individual mineral commodities with respect to output in 2004 varied by commodity.[2]

Industry structure

The diamond cutting industry appeared to be in flux; it was not possible to verify the continuing existence of a number of diamond cutting enterprises and a few new diamond cutting enterprises apparently were established. Russia’s major aluminum company RUSAL invested more than $100 million in Armenal, which was owned by RUSAL. The Armenal foil plant reopened in December 2005 after being closed for about 1 year for renovation. Plans called for the plant to produce 25,000 metric tons per year (t/yr) of foil. The plant, which would be supplied with raw material from RUSAL, was expected to produce 12% of all foil produced in the CIS by 2007.[2]

Trade

In terms of value, cut diamond was the country’s leading mineral export followed by copper and ores and slags, of which molybdenum ores and concentrates had the most value. The country reported significant exports of iron and steel, which were either transshipments or scrap as the county had no domestic steel industry.[2]

Outlook

Further development of the country’s mineral production sector is projected as additional funds become available for mineral sector development. Mineral production has been increasing (except for in the diamond-cutting industry) and the country is making a particular effort to attract investment in its mining sector. Molybdenum output is expected to increase as a result of a successful privatization program that involved a $200 million investment that has enabled the Zangezur copper-molybdenum complex to begin reequipping its mining and processing operations in 2005. The goal is to increase the ore-processing capacity at the Kadzharan deposit by 50% to between 12.5 and 13 million metric tons per year (Mt/yr) of ore by 2008. The Armenian Copper Program (ACP) is also in the process of having the large Teghout copper-molybdenum deposit reevaluated and, if it proves feasible for development, the deposit will be second only to the Kadzharan deposit in the size of its copper and molybdenum reserves. International companies are investing in developing gold deposits in Armenia, including Ararat Gold Recovery Company (a 100% subsidiary of Sterlite Ltd. of Canada) and United States-based Global Gold Corp. Production of aluminum foil is also expected to increase with the restarting of the Armenal plant.[2]

In February 2011, a Chinese delegation of the Fortune Oil company said the company plans to invest upwards of $500 million in Armenia's mining industry in two stages.[17]

Mine ownership

While some mines or their operating licences are directly owned by Armenian ministers of parliament through a series of holding companies, others are sold to foreign entities by the same or other MPs. In 2010, Paramount Gold Mining, owned by RA National Assembly President Hovik Abrahamyan and MP Tigran Arzakantsyan, was awarded a 25-year operating license for the southern portion of the Meghradzor gold mine in the Kotayk Province.[18] According to Hetq, MP Tigran Arzakantsyan, who has not been seen in parliament for quite a while, is now in Europe seeking out buyers for the mine.[18] Hovik Abrahamyan was also involved in the sale of the Hankavan gold mine. He also owns an exploratory license for the copper and molybdenum mine in the Vayots Dzor village of Yelpin. The license went to Argamik Ltd., a company registered in the village of Mkhchyan. The company is owned by Argam Abrahamyan, Hovik’s son.[18]

In January 2011, the Chinese Fortune Oil Company based in Hong Kong purchased 35% of Bounty Resources Armenia, owner and operator of three iron ore mines in Armenia.[19] Word of the sale spread through the Internet, with the Armenian government providing no details.[18] According to the website of the London Stock Exchange, the sale amounted to $24 million.[19] According to Hetq Investigative Journalism, the sale was a private one by Armenian ministers of parliament Vardan Ayvazyan and Tigran Arzakantsyan who through a series of transactions and holding companies have attempted to hide who the real owners of the companies are and to circumvent government scrutiny.[19]

Environmental impact

Destruction of the old-growth forest to make way for the open-pit copper and molybdenum mine at Teghut

According to a study by the Republic of Armenia's RA National Academy of Sciences’ Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies, mining in Armenia has been disastrous for Armenia in terms of public health and the environment.[20] Mining operators have failed to neutralize dangerous contaminants which have been absorbed by the ground. The pollutants then pass from the ground to agricultural produce and then to humans. 57% of Yerevan's population may be living in contaminated conditions due to ground pollution. Furthermore, the country’s rural fields are being irrigated with water flowing from contaminated sources due to mining operations. Also, according to the study, all types of farm produce from the towns of Kapan, Kajaran, Alaverdi, and Akhtala (all of which have significant mining operations) are laden with heavy metals, including mercury arsenic and cadmium.[20]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mining Industry in Armenia 2011", Armenian Development Agency Research and Information Department, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Richard M. Levine and Glenn J. Wallace. "The Mineral Industries of the Commonwealth of Independent States". 2005 Minerals Yearbook. U.S. Geological Survey (December 2007). This article incorporates text from this U.S. government source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ a b c d e
  5. ^ a b c d e
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Parliament Prez and MP Get Lucrative Mining License, May 10, 2011, Edik Baghdasaryan, Hetq.
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ a b
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ a b c
  17. ^
  18. ^ a b c d "Parliament President’s Mining Interests", Hetq Online, February 7, 2011.
  19. ^ a b c "Who’s Minding Armenia’s Natural Resources?", Hetq Online, February 7, 2011.
  20. ^ a b "Academy of Science Experts – Armenia Faces Pollution Crisis", Hetq Online, February 11, 2011.

External links

  • Mining in Armenia (2012) a 10-minute documentary produced by Robert Davidian and Liana Hakobyan.
  • Armenia Supplement (July 2011) by Mining Journal
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