Virgin forests surrounding the village of Teghut in northern Armenia are being destroyed to make way for a giant copper mine, warn Armenian and American conservationists who are appealing to the Armenian government to stop the mine. But many Teghut villagers do not oppose the mine because nearly half of local residents are unemployed and have no means to feed their families.
Exploration work has begun and many trees have already been cut down. Roads for trucks have been paved through the forest and digging equipment has been brought in. The Armenian Copper Program plans to put a mine tailings dump in the nearby gorge of the Kharatanots River; meanwhile, in order to set up the tailing structure, the company plans to change the course of the Kharatanots River.
Greens Union President Hakob Sanasaryan says, "twenty-five years later the place would be a desert." "The tailings and wastes, containing heavy metals, would penetrate the soil, water and air, causing disease, ruining the produce and sharply reducing soil fertility. Naturally, the people there would then be forced to leave."