Azerbaijan is planning to pursue criminal charges against companies that are engaged in illegal mining in the occupied territories of Karabakh.
“The Prosecutor General’s Office has analyzed evidence received from AzerGold CJSC regarding the illegal mining of gold and other precious metals in the Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenian armed forces,” says a joint statement from the Prosecutor General’s Office and AzerGold.
The Prosecutor General’s Office claims that the companies Vallex Group, Base Metals, ACP, Lerna Metallurgical Institute, Teghout, and others, registered in Armenia and other countries, are engaged in the illegal mining of gold and precious metals in the occupied Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan. Any income received from mining in the occupied territories is illegal, according to the statement.
The allegations are said to be supported by high-resolution images from the Azersky satellite, operated by the open joint stock company Azercosmos, as well as geological survey data.
“Azerbaijan intends to engage an international audit company as soon as possible in order to determine the damages suffered by AzerGold CJSC as a result of the illegal mining of precious metals in the occupied territories. Subsequently [Azerbaijan] will appeal to the appropriate international court and the law enforcement agencies of those countries where the companies engaged in these illegal activities are registered,” the statement concludes.
AzerGold CJSC was created on 11 February 2015 by presidential decree and tasked with the exploration, development and management of the gold and iron ore deposits of Western Azerbaijan. In the occupied territories there are 155 deposits of various types of minerals, including five gold deposits.
According to the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, in recent years more than 30 companies have been created to extract natural resources in the occupied territories of Karabakh.