Several workers of the Teghut company told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service on Friday that they have been notified that they will receive two-thirds of their wages during a two-week leave that will start on Monday.
The workers, who did not want to be identified, said the company management has blamed the stoppage on the Western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. They said they are therefore not sure they will return to work two weeks later.
Teghut is owned by VTB, one of seven Russian banks that have been excluded by the European Union from the SWIFT messaging system underpinning global financial transactions. Europe is the main market for copper and molybdenum ore concentrates exported by the company.
Teghut’s chief executive, Vladimir Nalivayko, insisted that the mining giant employing more than 1,100 people will be suspending operations in order to refurbish its waste disposal facility and a pipe feeding it.
In written comments to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service, Nalivayko was not drawn on the impact of the sanctions on Teghut. He said only that the current “political-economic situation in the world” has disrupted the company’s supply chain.
Teghut mines copper and molybdenum in an eponymous deposit located in Armenia’s northern Lori province. It was the country’s tenth largest corporate taxpayer last year, with over 15 billion drams ($30 million) in various taxes contributed to the state budget.
VTB’s Armenian subsidiary took over Teghut in 2019 after its previous owner failed to repay a $400 million loan provided by the bank.
Two other, larger mining enterprises in Armenia are also owned by Russian firms.