Lydian Restructuring Amid Ongoing Amulsar Site Blockade

(Photo: Lydian Armenia/Facebook)

YEREVAN—The Anglo-Canadian mining consortium Lydian International has confirmed that its stock ticker was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange earlier this year. The company insists that this move is standard procedure as it reemerges from restructuring proceedings under the protection of the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA). 

Lydian applied for CCAA protection in December 2019 as fallout from continued blockades of the Amulsar gold mining site by environmentalists hindered efforts to raise additional capital to cover operational expenses. The mining giant lost access to liquidity from its existing credit facilities on December 20, 2019, when forbearance agreements with lenders expired. Under CCAA proceedings, which continued until January 23, Lydian regained access to previously restricted cash supplies and has been revising its previous capital structure and finances, which it judges to be no longer viable due to the unforeseen effects of the 18-month long blockade of the mining site.

Anna Saghabalyan, a spokesperson for Lydian, told the Armenian Weekly in an email statement that under current projections, the company has access to enough liquidity to operate through the spring, as talks continue to secure additional cash injections. However they haven’t ruled out other options such as a sale of their claim on the Amulsar mining site, refinancing or even launching arbitration proceedings against the government of Armenia for breach of contract in order to recuperate damages for investors.

The mining consortium was formed in 2006 to explore Amulsar gold deposits in the Armenian province of Vayots Dzor before being awarded excavation rights to the site by the Armenian Government in 2012. The company’s local subsidiary Lydian Armenia LLC has ranked among Armenia’s top taxpayers for several years and is responsible for the single largest foreign investment in the country’s history. Operations on the site have effectively been at a standstill since environmentalist groups, taking advantage of the confusion following the Velvet Revolution, blocked access to the mine just weeks before it was scheduled to begin extraction. The environmentalists have accused the mining company of gaining the mining claim through illicit means and have voiced their concerns that ore extraction operations so close to underground water sources would contaminate the water supply for much of the country, among other environmental considerations.

Lydian has repeatedly refuted those accusations citing at least two on-site and independently conducted environmental impact studies backing its claim to operating under the strictest internationally established environmental standards. The stalled construction project forced the company to lay off almost 700 local workers last year while its Armenian subsidiary continued to pay local and national taxes.

Lydian officials had expected authorities to finally clear access to the mining site following Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s public call for the illegal blockade to be lifted back in September 2019. The Armenian government commissioned a third environmental impact study which, despite controversy over interpretations of its conclusions, largely supported the deduction that the mine could be exploited with minimal environmental impact. The company’s experts estimated at the time that simply bringing the site up to operability would take at least seven months, while exploitation couldn’t start for at least a year after that. 

However, despite several court injunctions ruling the unlawfulness of the blockade and reaffirming Lydian’s right to exploit the site, authorities have failed to remove the protesters. The Prime Minister has also called for the need to restore rule of law in the region as recently as last month. Lydian Armenia LLC CEO Hayk Aloyan says he’s frustrated with Armenian authorities for failing to act in accordance with court orders. “Not only has this situation impacted Lydian, thousands of its shareholders, employees, contractors and community members, it has also adversely impacted Armenia’s investment reputation and the economy of the country,” he told the Armenian Weekly. “We call on the Armenian government to take immediate action to restore the rule of law and to reveal those behind this continuing illegality.”

Editor’s Note 02/06/2020: The article has been amended to clarify that Lydian was incorporated in 2006, while the rights to the site were awarded in 2012.

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Raffi Elliott

Columnist & Armenia Correspondent
Raffi Elliott is a Canadian-Armenian political risk analyst and journalist based in Yerevan, Armenia. As correspondent and columnist for the Armenian Weekly, he covers socioeconomic, political, business and diplomatic issues in Armenia, with occasional thoughts on culture and urbanism.

10 Comments

  1. Water is more valuable than Gold, silver and any other metal that is extracted. Any risk to water contamination would devastate the entire countries water supply. Short term profits should not be approved at the expense of term destruction.

  2. Our http://www.ulasinc.com subsidiary CAS EurAsia cjsc faced similar situation HSBC Bank Armenia as we were looking to support Glass World from shell auction and save 600 jobs; no action. Same with a CRO lab which lost 50 jobs. We’ve been inactive in Armenia since 2018. Certain groups control the saturated banking sector with negligible outcomes.Proceed with caution FY2020

  3. Everyone in the surrounding area would be very happy for Lydian to close down and never open a mine in Amulsar endangering Jermug water, agricultural lands of people, and Armenia waterbed. Enough mines in a small country with no mining regulations which just profits corporations and leaves population with devastated land and high rate of cancers.

  4. In effect Lydian gas not lost a single dram since gold price is continuously growing and the reserves have higher value now. So no question of asking any money.

  5. There shouldn’t be any more mining in that area its very dangerous and it will contaminate the area for the years to come:

  6. Armenia’s economy can not depend on farming and services alone. Amulsar is being prevented from conducting it’s business because of speculation that it may harm the environment, but no proof it is actually doing so. The company should be allowed to operate under strict controls until such time they violate those controls.

  7. The proper answer is why is lydian operating with such impunity. And how come is lydian the largest taxpayer in the country? Shame on the authorities who could not diversify the economy properly while it sells the gold instead of keeping it in the state reserve. Miyamid garjadess hayer!

  8. Traveling though obscure villages and valleys inevetably I come across mine waste dumped into dammed up streams and the slopes of our valleys. Mine waste, or at least most of it, is cumulative and will remain in Armenia’s soil and water. Plastic or clay confinement of waste will not last forever. When these fail in 20, 50, or 100 years who will clean up the mess and who will pay for it? Probably not those who profited from dumping it there. If we are looking towards an Armenia in the future, say 50, 100, or 1000 years Armenia we need to protect our clean soil and water. We look back with pride at a 2,000 – 3,000 year history. Yet we are oblivious to the future sustainability of the only Armenian homeland we currently have.

  9. To: Department of Justice of the United States of America,
    To: The Honorable William Barr, Attorney General of the United States,
    U.S. Department of Justice
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20530-0001

    To: FBI International Corruption Unit
    935 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, D.C. 20535-0001

    To: The Chairman of SEC Jay Clayton,
    100 F Street, NE
    Washington, DC 20549,

    To: The Chief Editor of Bloomberg, LLP
    731 Lexington Avenue,
    New York, NY, USA

    To: The Chief Editor of CNBC
    900 Sylvan Avenue Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632

    To:The Chief Editor of New York Times
    242 W 41st St, New York, NY 10036

    Dear Mr. Attorney General:

    On behalf of the people of Republic of Armenia and American Armenian Diaspora in the United States I appeal to you to lunch an investigation into illicit activities of an offshore based company Lydian International registered in Jersey Channel Islands with offices at 5655 S Yosemite Street Suite 400 Greenwood Village, CO 80111, USA Tel: +1 720 457 2382.
    Lydian International was established by a group of former Armenian corrupt government officials with a help of a British citizen Tim Coughlin with one purpose only – to illegally transfer one of the largest gold deposits in Armenia called Amulsar gold mine to Lydian International, take Lydian International to Toronto Stock Exchange and cash out their shares with huge profit by misleading and defrauding public investors, including some US based investment funds.
    Since their launch shares of Lydian International lost more than 90% of their initial value. But founding shareholders successfully cashed out at the peak price.
    Founding shareholders of Lydian International knew all too well that Amulsar gold deposits also contain uranium and thorium ore deposits discovered by Russian geologists during Soviet Union and put into national strategic reserve and that those reserves are located in the ecologically pristine natural preserve of the famed resort town Jermuk and as such could not be mined during the times of peace.
    They also knew that mining operations of Amulsar gold mine will gravely endanger the population of nearby towns and villages as well as the ecology of the entire country, but they knowingly and willingly covered those facts from the public investors during the IPO.
    They also knew that any mining activities would meet popular uprising and resistance from the people of Armenia against any mining activities at Amulsar.
    All they cared at that time was their own profits on expense of Armenian people and public investors.
    During the entire process of transfer of Amulsar gold mine to Lydian International, the latter several times violated Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing local authorities and government bureaucrats to expedite the transfer of mining license to Lydian despite extremely unfavorable Ecological Audit reports and lack of transparency in the acquisition of Amulsar gold mine. Until now it is unclear how much Lydian paid for Amulsar acquisition why they circumventing international tender practices and mandatory international environmental audit reports.
    As a result of their murky dealings with the Corrupt former government of Armenia investors have been exiting their stock positions, Lydian International had to change their executive management 4 times during the past 10 years, including resignation of the founding shareholder Tim Coughlin.
    As per our information the Armenian shareholders held their shares in Lydian International through some offshore companies along with their British partners who initially fronted Lydian International as “foreign” investors and then successfully exited their positions with significant profits.

    We urge you to look into this outrageously corrupt company and their shady founding shareholders to bring justice to people of Armenia as well as all defrauded public investors who lost millions of dollars because of unscrupulous actions of Lydian International.

    Should you have any questions you can contact our financial and environmental experts in the United States:
    Georgy Iosifyan (tel:—————, email: ihelparmenia@gmail.com, who as an investment banker was discussing organization of environmental/ecological audit of Amulsar mine and following international M&A tender process with the government of Armenia back in 2008 and as such has intimate knowledge of the situation around Amulsar gold mine and Lydian International.

    Sincerely,

    Marina Pogosyan,

    Marina Poghosyan
    President
    “Veles” Human Rights NGO

  10. if the government is not able to control the mining industry in their country and has not the courage to enforce proper & continues rules how to operate these mines, and get their police to remove these people who block access to Amulsar then Lydian should sue the Government for billions to get their losses back & repay the shareholders.!!!!!

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