Lydian, Amulsar Gold and a viable mining industry in Armenia
“The Amulsar gold mine project is a shining example that it’s possible to have a viable mining industry with application of environmental standards in Armenia,” U.S Ambassador Richard Mills said at a business conference on viable mining industry this week.
The mining industry can be a profitable investment for Armenia, if it based on transparent, responsible, social and environmental international standards.
So, what makes the Amulsa gold mine project, and the owners - mining company Lydian International, such a strong example of transparent and environmentally sound mining?
Looking at Lydian
Lydian International is an emerging gold developer with its flagship 100 percent owned Amulsar Gold Project – more on that later.
The company is headed up by President and Chief Executive Officer Howard Stevenson. Mr Stevenson has over 25 years of global mining industry experience in corporate strategy, mine development and operations, mineral economics, business development and mergers and acquisitions on projects all around the world. Before his role at Lydian, he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Alacer Gold Corp.
Lydian operates the Amulsar Gold Project and has a mine licence for the Kela Project in Georgia.
The company was attracted to Armenia in 2005, with the Amulsar Gold deposit being discovered in 2006. Mining within Armenia and metal processing dates back centuries, but the modern mining industry was established during the Soviet Union period.
Lydian is not the only company to make home in Armenia, the company is neighboured by Dundee Precious Metals, Global Gold Corp, Cronimet and GeoProMining.
CSR, as we are ever keen to mention, is hugely important to the success of any mining company, and Lydian was namedropped as a key example of strong CSR. Lydian is a significant employer of locals as well as hosting sustainable community projects across the country.
"Sustainable development, protection of human life and health, the environment, and adding value to the communities in which we operate are all paramount to our corporate social responsibility”
You can find out more about Lydian’s strong and highly inspiring approach to CSR here.
The Amulsar Gold Project
Onto the titular project, the Amulsar Gold Project will be Armenia’s largest gold mine, with total estimated mineral resources containing five million ounces, and targeted projection at +200,000 ounces annually.
The Amulsar gold project is located 170km south of Armenia's capital Yerevan on the border between the provinces (Marz) of Vayots Dzor and Sunnik.
Although the alteration had been mapped in early Soviet times for a silica resource, and later Soviet exploration had been carried out for silica, gold was not reported until a reconnaissance trip by Lydian geologists in 2005 recognised the potential for epithermal-style gold mineralisation in rocks nearby.
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British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.