The NGO coalition demanded compensation from Armenia and ... transparency of projects in the liberated territories
Baku/24.01.22/Turan: The NGO Coalition to raise transparency in extractive industries has issued an evaluation document concerning the exploitation of mineral deposits in Karabakh.
It should be noted that this coalition is a local partner of the International Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The coalition's study indicates that as a result of Armenia's aggression and occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven adjacent districts, Azerbaijan's natural resources, including deposits of precious and non–ferrous metals - gold, silver, copper, molybdenum, etc., have been illegally developed for 30 years, and the country's wealth has been plundered predationally.
In particular, illegal gold mining was carried out at the Vezhnyali deposit in the Zangilan regiopn.
It belongs to the quartz-gold-sulfide-containing vein geological and industrial type. The approved reserves of gold of category C1 were 2,169 tons, C2 - 4,347 tons.
Silver reserves of category C1 were estimated at 0.19 tons, C2 - 9.9 tons, and copper C1 – 0.2 thousand tons, C2 - 2800 tons.
During the years of occupation, Armenia exploited the Zod deposit (Armenian name Sotk), rich in gold and silver. Despite the fact that Armenia accounted for only 30 percent of the field, it fully exploited it.
According to the latest information released by the Armenian side, the overvalued reserves of the Zod gold mine amount to 31,141 tons of ore, including 133.5 tons of gold and 175.6 tons of silver. Zod gold mining has become one of the most important sectors of the Armenian economy, and, according to official data, the Russian company GeoProMining Gold, which manages the gold mine, has become the 4th largest taxpayer in Armenia. In 2018, 4,518 kilograms of gold worth $162 million were exported from the Zod to Switzerland. In 2019, GeoProMining Gold paid $32 million in taxes to the state budget of Armenia.
At present, the deposits of precious and non-ferrous metals Gyzylbulag, Mehman, Janyatag-Gulyatag, Heyvaly (Drambon) remain under the control of Armenians in the north of Karabakh, in the Agdere zone.
In August 2002, the Armenian company Valex Group (VALLEX Group) created the company Base Metals which developed ore deposits in the region.
Currently, the Drmbonsky Mining Plant can process 700,000 tons of iron ore extracted from the Heyvaly (Drombon) and Demirli (Kashen) deposits.
According to experimental data of Base Metals, the copper-molybdenum reserves of the deposits in Agdere allow for large-scale production here. In this regard, a mining and processing plant with a capacity from 1.75 million tons to 3.5 million tons of ore per year has been built in Agdere. This, in turn, means an annual copper production of 14,000-15,000 tons worth more than $100 million.
It should be noted that companies from different countries operate illegally in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. According to investigative journalism, the main mining enterprises are private companies owned by citizens of Argentina, Australia, Great Britain, France, Iran, USA, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, China, Lebanon, Greece, Uruguay, India, Canada, etc. They have created subsidiaries together with the illegal regime.
The law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan have established, in particular, the illegal activities of the companies “Canadian First Dynasty Mines Ltd", "GeoProMining Ltd" (RF), "GPM Gold", "Global Gold Armenian Ltd", "Geologix Group", "Rodino Haskovo" JIC, "Centro Ceibal", "Deccan Gold Mines Ltd", "Indian Sterlite Gold Ltd" and "Cosmote Romanian Mobile Telecommunications S.A", etc.
Note that the occupying state violated traditional international humanitarian law, in particular the IV Hague Rules of 1907 and the IV Geneva Convention of 1949.
In particular, the Geneva Convention on Occupied Territories that have lost their legitimate administration and whose legal status is unknown prohibits companies from mining in territories that have been occupied for a long time and whose actual status is unclear. The occupying state has no legal authorities to exploit any natural resources or property in the occupied territories in the interests of its economy.
Besides, in line with the EITI strategy, companies must conclude an agreement with a state that has legal rights to extract natural resources.
At the same time, the evaluation document says that during the Second Karabakh War, the Vezhnyali deposit in the Zangilan region was completely liberated from the invaders, and the extraction of minerals at the Zod (Kelbajar) deposit by the Armenians was suspended. At present, Azerbaijan plans to exploit the Zod field. According to the updated production sharing agreement between the government of Azerbaijan and Anglo Asian Mining PLC dated September 28, 2021, two contract sites were transferred to this company – Vezhnyali and Gyzylbulag, and the contract for Soyuzdlu was canceled. Activities under the production sharing agreement for each of the contract sites will begin after the Azerbaijani government notifies the company that all military operations have been suspended and access to minerals is safe.
After that, Anglo Asian Mining PLC will have the right to develop and operate for 15 years with the right to prolong twice for another 5 years.
According to the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated May 29, 2021 and the agreement between Turkish companies and the Ministry of Economy of Azerbaijan dated September 30, 2021, they receive the legal basis to start developing three important ore deposits in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.
However, the fact that the terms of these agreements are closed to the public is of particular public concern to the NGO Coalition.
All things considered, the NGO Coalition calls on international intergovernmental organizations, international human rights organizations, as well as the International EITI Secretariat to take steps for implementation of appropriate international legal measures against Armenia as a state that has committed occupation and companies that have operated and continue to operate illegally in the specified territories of Azerbaijan.
It is also suggested to take legal measures against Armenia to compensate for the damage caused by the illegal exploitation of Azerbaijan's natural resources such as gold, silver, copper, molybdenum, etc.
The Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan is invited to ensure disclosure and public access to contracts for the development of natural resources in the liberated territories, inform the public about the terms of contracts and facilitate the activities of NGOs to monitor the implementation of these contracts.
There are also calls on Turkish companies Eti Bakır A.Ş and Artvin Maden A.Ş”, as well as Anglo Asian Mining to operate within international transparency standards, protect the environment and work with civil society to ensure transparency and accountability in this sector.-06B-