For three years, the Lori region has been working hard on the development of tourism, light industry, innovative agriculture. According to Gevorg Vardanyan, coordinator of the Center for Tourism Research and Development in Lori region, over the past 2 years, even in conditions of closed borders, due to domestic tourism, the Lori region has managed to maintain activity in terms of tourist visits.
Moreover, over the past 2 years, as Vardanyan continued, investments in the Lori tourism industry amounted to $ 11.5 million. However, according to him, the RA Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures does not consider such a volume of investments to be a serious investment. "For them, investments related to the operation of the mine are more serious," he added. Vardanyan based his statements on the results of the meetings held by the Ministries of Territorial Administration and the Environment over the past 2 weeks with community bodies that are not interested in the development of tourism in Lori at this point in time. According to the coordinator of the Center for Research and Development of Tourism in Lori, the decision to open another field in Lori was pleasant within the framework of desk discussions. "From these meetings, I learned that those who gave permission for the operation do not even know the location of these villages," he said.
In this context, Vardanyan stressed that in the Lori region the Vandzor-Tumanyan section was the only one free from exploitation of mines. At the moment, according to him, there are permits for the exploitation of 9 fields in Lori. "And if we open them, then we can already forget about other areas of development in the Lori region, including tourism, production, agriculture, which would allow balancing the socio-economic system of the region," the expert said.
However, the current government is not ready for this, the latter, according to Vardanyan, give priority to the mining industry, in view of the fact that the economy is in a difficult situation, considering the exploitation of the deposit as the only way to resume economic growth.
At the same time, he touched upon the issue of holding public hearings regarding the operation of the new mine. Basically, they took place in secret, which became known ex-post. Now, as the expert continued, measures are being taken to exclude this in the future. At the same time, Vardanyan expressed concern about the fact that the most vulnerable families in the region are invited to the hearings, who are provided with funds for participation.
Summarizing what was said, Vardanyan stressed that the discovery of a new deposit in the Lori region is definitely a big mistake, which will aggravate the consequences of the exploitation of a number of other mines in the region. To recall, recently it became known that in the Lori region it is planned to open another polymetallic deposit, which is intended to be exploited by the company Lusajur Ventures Invest, owned by unnamed investors from the Czech Republic. The project covers the interests of 5 communities in Lori region - Debed, Yeghegnut, Vahagni, Vaagnadzor and Margaovit. Representing the interests of Czech investors, former head of the country's social security service Vazgen Khachikyan, who was convicted of embezzlement of funds on an especially large scale during the previous government, assured the community residents that this is a closed method of ore mining that does not have a tailing dump. There will be no enrichment plant here either. However, residents of one of the communities close to the deposit opposed the exploitation of the mine, due to the obvious harm that could be caused to the health of people and the ecology of the Lori region. They said that the priority of the region today is the development of tourism, so there can be no talk of the exploitation of new metallurgical deposits.