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Around 100 policy makers and practitioners from the Government of Armenia, the private sector, universities, civil society groups, media and development partner representatives attended the launch of the Armenia Strategic Mineral Sector Sustainability Assessment, organized by the World Bank.
The new Bank Assessment highlights the potential for economic growth fueled by the sector and the need for a national mining policy to maximize the sector’s contribution to sustainable development.
In the last five years, Armenia’s mining exports have amounted to approximately USD $500 million annually, making it the country’s top sector in terms of export and inflow of foreign exchange. Mining companies are also significant job providers, especially in rural areas. In 2014, over 7,000 people were employed in the metallic mining sector, which is around 10 percent of those employed in the industrial branch of the economy.
The Government of Armenia requested that the World Bank evaluate the key social and environmental challenges and future opportunities for the mining sector. The Assessment supports the development of a minerals strategy that incorporates international good practices.
“This evaluation can serve as a tool to develop a road map for creating a responsible, transparent mining sector that solidly contributes to country’s sustainable development,” said Davit Harutyunyan, Minister – Chief of Staff of the Republic of Armenia Government.
The Assessment recommends the government embark on a process of elaboration of a national mining policy to ensure sound regulation of the sector. The policy would also provide an opportunity to build consensus among stakeholders, which is crucial to promoting a sustainable, transparent and successful industry.
The Assessment endorses several diagnostic studies that would serve as a baseline for development of a national mining policy. These studies would assess social and environmental conditions; geotechnical risk; technology needs; health and safety and economic conditions; and identify the means and measures (technical, financial, human resources) necessary for developing the policy document.
“The mining sector in Armenia could contribute to sustainable development. For this, the sector needs to be advanced in an environmentally and socially responsible manner and the benefits have to be equitably shared,” said Kirsten Hund, Senior Mining Specialist at the World Bank.
The report also recommends strengthening sector governance through implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Armenia is currently preparing its candidature application to implement EITI, which will entail publicly disclosing information about the revenues extractive industries generate in the country, and then a three-way discussion between the government, private sector and civil society to deepen this transparency.
“The multi-stakeholder approach embraced by EITI will serve as an excellent base to build consensus around the proposed national mining policy,” said Laura Bailey, World Bank Country Manager for Armenia.
The Assessment was produced by a consortium of experts, comprised of the Swedish Geological AB; SLR Consulting Ltd; Avag Solutions LLC; the AUA Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis; and the AUA Center for Responsible Mining.
It was made possible by support from the Extractive Industries-Technical Advisory Facility (EI-TAF), which was administered by the World Bank and supported by 5 donor countries up until its close in December 2015. In the future, similar work on sustainable development of extractive industries will be supported by the Extractives Global Programmatic Support (EGPS) Multi-Donor Trust Fund, which is supported by Australia, Finland, Germany, Norway and Switzerland. The EGPS supports resource-rich developing countries to use their oil, gas and mineral resources sustainably and transparently to facilitate poverty alleviation and economic growth.
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