It is a privilege to be here today, in the company of Prime Minister Abrahamyan and the Minister of Energy, Yervand Zakharyan, to visit the Amulsar project and meet with its staff. This project represents the largest international investment in Armenia, with a bulk of institutional investors from the United States. The opening of this mine is an important economic opportunity for Armenia. I would like to emphasize, too, the importance of protecting the environment. Therefore, as in the case of mining operations everywhere, it is essential for government, civil society, and the mining company to work together to ensure that there is no harm to the environment.
Lydian International is known for utilizing responsible mining practices which adhere to international environmental standards. We hope that Lydian’s Amulsar project will become an example of responsible mining, which will show it that is possible to find a balance between the economic and environmental interests.
The Embassy has long worked with the Government of Armenia on the issue of transparency and therefore, we warmly welcome the Prime Minister’s recent announcement that the Armenian Government intends to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). If you’re not familiar with EITI, it is built on the principles of allowing the public to see and be confident that a country’s wealth, its natural resources, are extracted using the best methods and the proceeds are appropriately shared. EITI requires that the government, civil society, and industry come together to openly address concerns and create a framework to resolve them. While work remains to be done before Armenia can achieve its goal of becoming first an EITI candidate, and ultimately an EITI compliant country, Armenia’s implementation of the EITI standard will bring more public transparency to the mining sector, help foster the sustainable development of the industry, and ensure the Armenian public understands how the natural resources of Armenia are extracted and who benefits from that extraction.
While meeting with Lydian and the GeoTeam, I look forward to learning more about how the company has contributed to the betterment of the surrounding communities. With their various investments in the local community, including an arts center and a kindergarten that I look forward to visiting in Jermuk, Lydian has put into practice a model of corporate social responsibility familiar to us in the United States. The concept of corporate social responsibility means companies seek to become truly involved in the local community and take concrete actions to contribute to the community in ways unrelated to corporate profit. I am pleased that Lydian has brought this best practice of working with the local community to Armenia.
The U.S. greatly values its deepening economic ties with Armenia and commends the Government of Armenia for the commitments it has made to improve the business environment. The Amulsar project is an excellent example of what is possible when our countries and peoples work together.