All Things Teghut and Mining

by Kirk Wallace

I want to provide an update on things related to mining and, specifically, Teghut.  I also want to let people know that people over here are working very hard to address the issue of mining from a variety of angles.  There are legal angles, academic angles, activism angles and so on.  In fact, there are so many people and groups, doing so many things that I was losing track of them.  So I sat down with some folks who know the “ins and outs” of most activities and started to organize a blog entry.  If it happens that RA government officials, as well as Vallex management, read this blog, that would be a bonus.  Eventually they may realize that the issue of Teghut isn’t the provenance of a small group of disaffected youth but rather a collection of many organizations from the Save Teghut Civil Initiative all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.

Below is a listing, with minimal descriptions of what is going on in regards to Teghut.  I know I missed some things in this process and, for that, I apologize.  However, it should provide a relatively good picture of what is being done here.  People aren’t just sitting around while Vallex continues to remove the mountain and install the tailings’ dam.  And, they are doing this almost entirely with their own money.

I have broken the activities into five broad categories; Legal (with National and International subcategories), Academic, Economic, Legislative, and Social.  There will be overlap between some of the categories, particularly Legal and Legislative.  And, some of the activities are in their beginning stages while others have been ongoing for some time.  I provide the names of the organizations responsible and their specific activities.

Acronyms –

  • AEN – Armenian Environmental Network
  • Acopian/AUA – Acopian Center for the Environment at the American University of Armenia
  • UNDP – United Nations Development Program
  • ATP – Armenia Tree Project
  • PAF – Pan-Armenian Eco Front
  • FPWC – Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets
  • HCAV – Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor
  • STCI – Save Teghut Civic Initiative
  • MNP – Ministry of Nature Protection
  • EU – European Union

Legal (International)

  1. STCI – Applied with the United Nations for a Human Rights Rapporteur to investigate Teghut (ongoing)
  2. STCI – Report to President Sargsyan regarding Aarhus Compliance Committee findings in regard to violations of the Aarhus Convention by the Armenian government (ongoing)
  3. Ecoera – Court case regarding legal standing of NGOs in Armenian courts (favorable ruling)
  4. HCAV – Court cases, in the European Court of Human Rights, on behalf of citizens of Shnogh alleging human rights violations by Vallex in the purchasing of their private lands (ongoing)
  5. STCI – Contact with the Canadian Office of Counselor for Extractive Industries CSR regarding Deno Gold Investments.  While not related to Teghut specifically, it has broad mining industry implications (ongoing)
  6. Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE) – Written Declaration No. 503,  condemning the “man-made ecological disaster project of Teghut” (concluded Jan 2012)
  7. EU – Proposed review of Environmental Framework Law

Legal (National)

  1. Ecoera & Villagers of Shnogh & Teghut) – Re-filing of original lawsuit alleging violations of the Aarhus convention by the Republic of Armenia (pending)
  2. STCI – Communication with Constitutional Court of RA on legal standings of NGOs (ongoing)
  3. STCI – Request of Human Rights Defender to extract guarantees from the Ministry of Nature Protection that they will inspect whether Vallex is upholding original Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and original work plan (ongoing)
  4. STCI – Initiated criminal investigation on Vallex.  At issue is a “gap analysis” on the original EIA for Teghut conducted by an organization called Environmental Resources Management (ERM).  STCI is asking relevant authorities to determine whether Vallex committed a crime by altering the original EIA/work plan without the approval or input of the public as is required by law, using the gap analysis as proof of these alleged crimes (ongoing)
  5. AEN/ATP and others – Letter to President and Prime Minister requesting new and independent EIA for Teghut (request rejected)


  1. World Bank – Reform of Armenia’s EIA laws (ongoing)
  2. STCI – Reform of Armenia’s EIA laws (ongoing)
  3. World Bank – Armenian Mining Code reform (ongoing)
  4. STCI – Establishment of annual membership in the International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA) (ongoing)
  5. UNDP – The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) trainings, education and conferences (ongoing)
  6. STCI – Conducted legal gap analysis for mining sector (completed)
  7. STCI – Request for CEE Bankwatch to investigate European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) activities in regards to funding mining enterprises (ongoing)
  8. MNP – Government Decision # 16 – 8 of April 25, 2013 that commissions MNP to develop, within 6 months, a strategy for innovative financial mechanisms in the environmental sector, specifically highlighting ecosystem valuations as the new standard approach (ongoing)


  1. Acopian/AUA – Proposed establishment of Responsible Mining Research Center (proposed)
  2. Acopian/AUA – Published results of soil analyses by Dr. Varduhi Petrosyan (completed and ongoing)
  3. AEN/FPWC/Acopian/AUA – Conference on clean copper smelter operations as presented by Vicken Aprahamian (concluded in July 2013)
  4. Acopian/AUA – International Symposium on Environmental and Occupational Health in Mining (Concluded in April 2013)
  5. Acopian/AUA – Mining and Socio-Economic Development: Armenia’s Policy Choices (concluded in 2012)
  6. Acopian/AUA – Heavy-metal pollution in Armenia –  workshop on Blacksmith Institute’s rapid assessment methodology (concluded October 2012)
  7. Acopian/AUA – The Environment and Armenia’s State Budget Seminar (July 2013)


  1. STCI – Established Building an Alternative Future NGO for economic development of Teghut/Shnogh area (ongoing)
  2. STCI – Herbs and Spices production in Teghut/Shnogh (proposed)
  3. STCI – Honey production in Teghut (ongoing)
  4. AEN/Green Lane – High value berry production (proposed)
  5. STCI – Placement of permanent business advisor in Teghut (proposed)


  1. STCI – Community outreach in Teghut/Shnogh (ongoing)
  2. PAF – Community outreach in Teghut/Shnogh (ongoing)
  3. Peace Dialog of Vanadzor – Information dissemination regarding Teghut/Shnogh (completed)
  4. AEN/STCI/PAF – Diasporan outreach

As mentioned previously, I am positive I am missing some fine work by some organizations.  But, this should give you a sense of what is going on here.  Please email us if you are aware of other work being pursued.