By Ruzanna Stepanian
Two U.S. and German mining companies are close to buying and jointly owning Armenia’s largest metallurgical complex put up for sale earlier this year, Trade and Economic Development Minister Karen Chshmaritian announced on Friday.
Chshmaritian said the New Jersey-based Comsup Commodities and Chronomet of Germany are the sole bidders in the tender for the Zangezur Copper and Molybdenum Combine called by the government in March. “We have agreed in principle that they will participate in the privatization on the fifty-fifty percent share basis,” he told a news conference.
Chshmaritian did not disclose the industrial giant’s expected takeover price, saying only that each of the buyers will have to invest $150 million in it in the coming years. He added that the deal will likely be finalized and signed by the end of this year.
The Zangezur plant and adjacent mines are located near the town of Kajaran in the southeastern Syunik region. The mountainous area has Armenia’s largest deposits of copper and molybdenum ores. Thousands of people work for the plant built in the 1970s.
Comsup is already present in the Armenian metals sector, having privatized a smaller copper and molybdenum enterprise in Agarak, some 50 kilometers south of Kajaran, as recently as last April. It has already invested $2 million in the plant, according to Chshmaritian.
Another American company, Global Gold, also operates in the remote area bordering Iran, owning and developing its Soviet-era gold mines.