Lydian International made further progress in the proposed restart of its controversial Amulsar gold project this week, as the Administrative Court of Armenia has ruled in favor of the company and invalidated eight out of ten findings made by Armenia’s environmental and mining inspection body in August 2018.
At that time, the inspection body completed its investigation at the Amulsar project and declared that Lydian was in breach of ten Armenian legislative requirements, including that the company had engaged in illegal mining activities during the construction phase of the project. Lydian vigorously disputed the findings and alleged that the head of the inspection body was biased.
“This is yet another instance where the judiciary in Armenia have recognized Lydian’s legal compliance”
The Investigative Committee of Armenia commenced a criminal case against Lydian in August 2018 based on the inspection body’s findings. The Administrative Court decision establishes that Lydian’s construction activities at the project did not constitute illegal mining. The company has continuously maintained that there was never any proper basis for commencing the criminal investigation.
The court also invalidated a decision by the former head of inspection, Artur Grigoryan, who rejected an administrative appeal brought by Lydian before the inspection body. The court found that Grigoryan had been actively engaged in anti-Amulsar activities prior to his appointment to the inspection body, which raised reasonable doubts on his objectivity when rejecting Lydian’s administrative appeal.
Other findings invalidated by the Administrative Court included allegations of newly found “red listed” plant and animal species, illegal disturbance of agricultural land, and non-permitted atmospheric emissions. Those findings were determined to be baseless, Lydian asserted.
The remaining two findings the Administrative Court did not invalidate were recommendations to improve documentation and annual statistical reporting.
The inspection body has 30 days to appeal the Administrative Court ruling.
The latest court decision comes just one week after the company was granted a water permit by the ministry of environment for the project. The permit would allow Lydian’s project team to draw water from the Arpa River at a rate of 11 l/s.
“This is yet another instance where the judiciary in Armenia have recognized Lydian’s legal compliance. In several previous rulings, Armenian courts have found that Lydian’s legal rights to operate have been unlawfully impeded,” Lydian president and CEO Edward Sellers said in the media statement.
“Lydian has suffered serious financial losses as a result of illegal activities that the government of Armenia has not curtailed. The actions and inactions of the government continue to negatively impact all of Lydian’s stakeholders, including hundreds of employees, contractors and suppliers, as well as thousands of shareholders and investors.”