Over a number of years, MLRI undertook research on responsible mining best practices, publishing papers on Armenia’s tailings and waste management processes, water use and quality, the fiscal regime for the mining sector, workers' rights and safety, the social impacts of mining and other relevant issues.
More recently MLRI undertook a nationwide stakeholder consultation process to identify the key issues and concerns of civil society regarding mining operations. The research undertaken by MLRI and the stakeholder consultations have contributed to the development of MLRI’s Responsible Mining Policy.
People's ownership: The natural resources of the Republic of Armenia belong to the people of Armenia.
Ethical analysis: Mine license applications should be assessed based on ethical analysis; including the positive and negative economic, environmental, social, health and workers’ rights impacts of mineral exploitation on current and future generations.
Beneficial exploitation: All mineral exploitation in Armenia should provide sufficient benefit to outweigh the negative impacts of mining.
Fair distribution of wealth: Mining sector revenues should be fairly distributed amongst the people of Armenia including to regional, mine-affected and financially challenged constituencies.
Toward zero impact: Mining practices should aim toward minimizing the negative social and environmental impacts of modern chemical mining.
International best practice standards: International best practices for responsible mining should serve as a guide for proper governance of the mining industry in Armenia.
Sustainable industries: The mining industry in Armenia should not impede the sustainable and natural growth of competing industries including agriculture, tourism and energy production.
Clarity of legislation: For ease of doing business and business confidence, MLRI supports clarity and consistency in the mining sector legislation. Clauses in legislation must be consistent with corresponding clauses in co-dependent legislation to ensure that laws are clear and easily enforceable. Legislative clarity and will also minimize the risk of inadvertent human misconduct and corruption.
Proper cost-benefit analysis: A proper ethical cost-benefit analysis should be mandatory prior to the approval of mine operations. The benefits of a potential mining project must outweigh its negative impacts on current and future generations for the project to commence.
Mine licensing: The mine licensing application process and the conditions for mining operation must be clear and consistent. Laws must empower the mining licensee to operate with confidence while affording the Armenian government the power to revoke mining licenses or halt mining operations in cases where environmental and social damages have been caused.
Impact assessments: Guidelines to support the preparation of detailed and accurate Cumulative Impact Assessments (CIA), Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA), and Health Impact Assessments (HIA) should be made available to prospective mining companies in Armenia to enable them to assess precisely the impacts of their mining activities.
Independent inspectorate: The monitoring of mining operations is critical to the proper management of the mining sector. Inspections should be undertaken by an independent inspectorate. MLRI supports a separation of powers such that the inspectorate body is separate from the government body responsible for approving mining operations.
Adoption of standards: MLRI supports the adoption and use of international mining standards in Armenia to support responsible mining. Relevant international and best practice standards include Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and other standards.
Best practice dam construction: The high-quality construction of dams is critical to ensuring environmental and social protections in Armenia due to the potential for dam wall collapses that may be caused by seismic movements in an earthquake-prone country.
Waste management: MLRI supports the safe storage and disposal of residual wastes and process residues. Improper waste management practices should be deterred through strict governance, heavy fines and reparations.
Water: Water is a precious shared resource with high social, cultural, environmental and economic value. Access to clean water is a human right and is integral to the wellbeing and survival of communities. It is also essential to the healthy functioning of ecosystems and the services they provide. Thus, the management of water and water usage practices in the mining sector must be effective, efficient and sustainable.
Tailings: Tailings production is inherent to mining and minerals processing and will remain so for the foreseeable future. These tailing materials require engineered solutions for their long-term safe storage and sustainable management. Responsibility for the management of tailings falls with the mining company. The mining company may only be absolved of responsibility if necessary funds have been allocated for safe maintenance of the tailings site in perpetuity.
Mine closure: Designing, planning and allocating adequate human and financial resources to meet proper closure requirements are necessary for all mining operations. Comprehensive, environmentally sound and fully-costed closure plans must be presented prior to the commencement of mining operations and implemented as the final critical phase of the mining project.
Land rehabilitation: MLRI supports the rehabilitation of land disturbed or occupied by operations in accordance with appropriate post-mining land uses, particularly agriculture, forestry, energy production and tourism.
Legacy mine management: A proportion of government revenues earned from the mining sector should be allocated to the proper management of abandoned mining sites and legacy mines to ensure as much as is possible the rehabilitation and reuse of former mining sites for other purposes.
Ethical status of land: Land for Armenians can be more than just an economic resource. The cultural significance of the land should be considered when assessing mining permissions. In instances where mining does take place, the culture, customs and heritage of local communities, should be managed.
Affected communities: Impacted communities should be actively involved in the decision-making and approval process. MLRI also supports the development of appropriate systems for continual interaction between affected communities, mining corporations and government representatives.
Community reinvestment: The government should demand that mining operations properly compensate impacted communities. Also, the government should reinvest government revenues earned from mining operations into affected areas to build community infrastructure.
Public health: The government should identify health-related issues stemming from past and current mining projects in local communities and develop programs to remedy them. Especially, Armenia must develop mechanisms to assess, measure, and reduce heavy metals’ exposure in impacted communities.
Workers' safety: MLRI supports continual improvement in health and safety performance in the workplace. To achieve this, all practical and reasonable measures must be implemented to eliminate workplace fatalities, injuries and diseases among employees and contractors. Also, employees must be provided with relevant and regular safety training.
Workers' rights: MLRI supports measures that promote job security and opportunities for career growth in the mining sector. Retraining should also be provided to mineworkers after the conclusion of mining operations to enable workers to attain jobs in new and alternative industries.
Societal benefit: Mining should improve the employment, business, education and training opportunities for members of affected communities, and support the growth and prosperity of the mine-affected region.
Maximize economic benefits: MLRI supports government initiatives that would seek to maximize the economic benefits of mining for Armenia including to promote opportunities for Armenian companies and workers to enter the global supply chains of multinational resource companies; encourage downstream processing of minerals, resources and energy products, and public and private investment in the necessary infrastructure; and facilitate the commercialisation and export of minerals-related services and technology.
Minimize tax avoidance opportunities: The government should ensure that Armenian resource industries pay their fair share of taxes and royalties. This can be achieved through a number of policies including removal of the profit tax component of royalty; ring-fencing mining operations for taxation purposes; implementing beneficial ownership legislation; implementing laws on transfer pricing; placing heavy penalties for delayed tax lodgements.
Cost of environmental degradation: Economic assessment of the performance of the mining sector should include accurate costings of environmental management throughout the life of the mines as well as the rehabilitation of lands after closure.
Cost of impacts on tourism and agriculture: The economic impacts of mining, especially on the unfulfilled potential for competing industries such as agriculture and tourism should be assessed properly.
Financial transparency: Transparency of revenue payments to governments is a necessary component of effective industry reform. The current focus on the EITI in Armenia is an important step towards improving transparency.
Revenue management: MLRI supports the implementation of policies and procedures to ensure that revenues are managed effectively to deliver long-term economic growth and poverty alleviation.