18 March, 2018 11:46

Russian Mining Company Suspends Exploratory Activities in Noyemberyan, Armenia

Polymetal International plc, a precious metal mining company operating in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Armenia, has suspended its intended geological prospecting and exploratory activities in the Tavush and Lori regions of Armenia earlier this week.

The decision comes after anti-mining protests and criticism took place on social media.

The company’s planned activities would have impacted 18,000 hectares of forest areas in the Tavush and Lori provinces, located in northeastern Armenia.

Who is Polymetal International?

  • Polymetal International operates through nine segments. In Armenia, the Company operates through Kapan MPC CJSC and LV Gold Mining CJSC
  • The Company is registered in the Jersey Island of British Channel Islands, known as an offshore financial center on the scale of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
  • In 2016, Polymetal International turnover exceeded $1 billion.
  • The Company is considered to be one of the world's largest producers of silver, and it is one of the three largest gold mining companies in Russia.
  • The company was founded in 1998 by Alexander Nesis in Saint-Petersburg. According to Forbes, his fortune is estimated to be of about $ 2 billion.
  • The company has connections with the Russian Government. Its Deputy CEO is the wife of the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich. Armenian prime minister Karen Karapetyan met Dvorkovich on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, in January, 2018.
  • 27.13% of Polymetal International shares belong to Alexander Nesis, 6.7% to another Russian billionaire named Alexander Mamut, and 13% to the Czech PPF Group investment bank.

Polymetal International in Armenia

  • In 2015, Polymetal International acquired the shares and use permit of Lichkavaz gold mine in the Syunik region. In April 2016, the Company bought the Kapan Gold Mine plant for $25 million according to Arka.am.
  • In January of 2018, Polymetal International announced that it is searching for precious metals in 20 settlements of Syunik region, in a total of 295 square kilometers. Despite the presence of forested areas, the request from the Company has been welcomed by the Ministry of Nature Protection of Armenia, Artsvik Minasyan.

The Polymetal International case is not dissimilar to the Teghout Mine Project. In 2014, Vallex Group began a copper and molybdenum mine project in Teghut forest in the northern region of Lori - a $380 million project. The Group was financed by the private pension fund PensionDanmark. This project led to destruction of 357 hectares of rich forest and water pollution in the area.

Now, after protests by the residents of Noyemberyan region, notably on the social media, Polymetal International has decided to suspend its geological prospecting and exploratory activities.

“The project is completely over. Yes, the work on the expertise, which is a precondition for the implementation of the program, is suspended, " stated the Company’s Public Relations Officer in an interview with Armtimes.com.

Whether the Company will resume operations in the area in the near future or not remains unknown.

Ani Paitjan 

In picture: Noyemberyan mountains, photo by Sargis Bulghadaryan.