Several companies in Armenia’s troubled mining industry have reportedly resumed exports of their products responding to a more favorable price situation on the international market of non-ferrous metals.
An Armenian cargo shipping company confirmed to RFE/RL on Wednesday that it is now providing services to several mining enterprises exporting their products, including the plants in Agarak, Kajaran, Kapan and Alaverdi.
Gagik Aghajanian, the executive director of the Apaven company, linked this activity to a certain rise in international prices for non-ferrous metals.
“They already work and work at a profit. It is another thing that in the past they worked at a super profit. Now they do not idle as it was at the beginning of this year,” said Aghajanian.
Rubina Ter-Martirosian, a spokesperson for the Deno Gold Mining Company that owns the copper-molybdenum enterprise in Kapan, confirmed to RFE/RL that the company has resumed exports.
Ter-Martirosian said the enterprise that halted its operations in November resumed in April. She, however, found it difficult to mention when exactly the enterprise began to export its products.
“It is difficult to say when we began our export because it took some time for a certain amount of concentrate to be accumulated before its export began,” she explained.
Ter-Martirosian, however, denied that the company has worked at a profit. She said that since its foundation in 2006, the company has worked at a loss. “The investments that the owner has made into the enterprise have not yet paid,” she added.
Non-ferrous metals have become Armenia’s number one export item in recent years on the back of their soaring prices in world markets. The collapse of global demand for them and a dramatic fall in prices in the last quarter of 2008 has been the main reason why Armenian exports tumbled dramatically in the first half of this year.
The Armenian industry showed a nearly 12 percent decline in the first seven months of this year and idling enterprises in the mining sphere have significantly contributed to this decline.
The Armenian government in late June approved a total of $44 million in fresh loans to three struggling mining companies, namely Zangezur Mining, Armenia Molybdenum Production, and the Agarak Copper and Molybdenum Combine. The financial assistance was made possible due to a $500 million Russian credit obtained by Armenia recently.
A spokesperson for GeoProMining, the owner of the Agarak Copper and Molybdenum Combine, told RFE/RL that the enterprise resumed its operations on June 30 and immediately reached the projected production capacity, extracting 240 tons of copper ore a month.
According to Ruzanna Grigorian, the enterprise exports 2,500 tons of copper concentrate and 30 tons of molybdenum to European markets on a monthly basis. The spokesperson also added that GeoProMining fulfils all its obligations to the staff and the Armenian government.
The Agarak plant temporarily halted its operations in February 2009, but 500 workers continued to receive their full wages throughout the downtime, while 400 workers were on a forced vacation and were paid two-thirds of their wages. Currently, the enterprise employs 900 workers.
The international price for copper drastically fell last October – from $8,000 to $3,000-3,500 per ton. The price has now partially rebound to some $6,300.