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GEOLOGICAL SERVICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

FOREWORD

 

The Geological Service of the Republic of Armenia (RA) tracing back more than 90 years, has undergone quite a creative development, during which owing to painstaking work of geologists it became possible to study and put into operation a large number of metallic, nonmetallic mines, underground fresh and mineral waters, to discover a variety of mineral occurrences that still need to be further studied.

As a result, the country managed to establish a strong mineral resource base, which contributed to the development of many branches of economy, such as mining, chemical industries and partly food industry, production of construction materials, agriculture, etc. Particularly, in the Soviet years, great attention was paid to the development of different fields of geological study of the subsurface and mineral management, and the total amounts of public funding spent for geological prospecting works reached unprecedented high levels. During those years, more than 500.0 million roubles were invested in the field of geology. It stands to reason that numerous mines of minerals were discovered and explored in those years, some of which rank among the largest. The exploitation of such deposits plays a significant role in promoting economic development in the Republic of Armenia. Nowadays, there are numerous mine fields and mining areas which are very prospective for geological exploration and discovery of new deposits.

 

TIMELINE  OF  THE  STUDY OF THE GEOLOGICAL STRUCTURE AND FORMATION OF THE GEOLOGICAL SERVICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF ARMENIA

 

In Armenia mining art is known from time immemorial, as is evidenced by numerous archaeological artefacts, fossils, traces of ancient mining extractions, as well as copper, iron, gold and other metal alloys.

The first geological data on certain mines and mining areas are attributed to the 18th century when Chardin first described Sevan Lake and Reinegs - Akhtala Mine.

Geological studies in Armenia commenced in the early 19th century and were conducted sporadically by professionals from abroad.

The orebodies in Alaverdi and Akhtala were studied and described in 1824-1835 by a Russian engineer-geologist Voskoboynikov. He is also the first researcher for Hayotsdzor and some mining areas in Tsakhkadzor.

Beginning from 1844 Otto Wilhelm Hermann von Abich, German minerologist and geologist, has systematically studied the subsurface mineral resources of Armenia. He drew the first comprehensive geological map of Armenia of 1: 420000 scale.

In the mid-19th century the Caucasian Mining Administration was formed, the specialists of which (Ivanicki in 1851-1852, Klepanov, Rips in 1865-1866, etc.) worked with Abich. They conducted surveying and prospecting works in Dilijan gold fields.

Before the Revolution (the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1917), A. Konyushevski, N. Lebedev, N. Morozov, G. Smirnov and O. Karapetyan provided detailed geological descriptions of the copper and polymetallic deposits found in Northern Armenia.

Routine and broader geological and certain mining areas investigations started after the establishment of Soviet rule in Armenia.

In Soviet Armenia the State Geological Service was established in 1923 along with creation of the Mining Division adjacent to the all-Union Council of National Economy headed by Y.E. Zurabov with involvement of A.F. Abrahamyan, who were prominent scholars and experts in mining and concentrating in Armenia. Of the first works of the Mining Division was the study of the chromite mine in Sevan Lake Basin and polymetallic mines in Hayotsdzor.

The following table provides the brief history of the Geological Service of Armenia:

No.

Name of the body

Date of creation

Headed by

1

Mining Division adjacent to the all-Union Council of National Economy

1923

Y.E. Zurabov

2

The Representation of the USSR General Geological Department in Armenia

1929

A.S. Zorabyan

3

Armenian Geological Base of the State Hydrogeological Investigation Department of the Transcaucasian Trust

1931

G.G. Sargsyan

4

The Armenian Geological Bureau of the Transcaucasian Trust

1934

B.G. Melkumyan,

G.A. Dallakyan

5

ArmGeoMin, The Armenian Branch of the Scientific Research Institute of Geology and Mineralogy

1937

G.A.Dallakyan

6

The State Geological Department

1938

G.M. Harutyunyan

In 1938 the Geological Fund was established under the Armenian State Geological Department (Decision No. 2042 of the USSR Council of People’s Commissars as of 27 of November, 1937)

8

Department of Geology and Subsoil Protection under the Council of Ministers of the USSR

1957

G.M. Harutyunyan,

A.T.Aslanyan

9

Amenian State Geological Committee

1964

A.T.Aslanyan

10

Geological Department under the Council of Ministers of the Armenian SSR

1965

A.T.Aslanyan, E.Kh.Ghulyan

11

Armenian Geological Production Association

1987

E.Kh. Ghulyan,

R.Ye. Karapetyan since 1988

12

Armenian State Department of Subsurface Management of the Republic of Armenia

1992

R.Ye. Karapetyan, L.S. Sargsyan since 1993

13

Since 1996 the Geological Service has been a subdivisional unit at the RA Ministry of Nature Protection.

14

From 2008 up to date, the Geological Service has been incorporated in the RA Ministry of Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources.

 

The minor geological works performed by the Geological Service of Armenia before 1939 were aimed at additional exploration of the operated mines and partly at studying new mines and ore occurences.

Since 1938, after the establishment of the Armenian State Geological Department, the process of geological works has radically changed. The geological studies of the subsurface of the country were conducted systematically and routinely.

Owing to and by virtue of the rewarding work of geologists it became possible to study and exploit Karajan copper and molybdenum deposit, which is the largest in the country and ranks among the largest mines in the world.

In the 1939-1990s, specialists have completed a detailed investigation of the 20 metallic mines, and the industrial reserves of mineral rosources of which were confirmed by the USSR State Commission for Mineral Reserves.

Of non-metallic mineral deposits (except for the deposits of construction materials) in the 1939-1990s, 46 mines have been identified, researched and developed for commercial operation and further exploitation. In the same period, 233 mines for construction materials have been explored and exploited. Of particular interest are the underground fresh and mineral water mines. Notably, in the same period, 39 underground freshwater and 16 mineral water deposits have been examined and accounted.

Relatively significant of the fresh water deposits are Ararat artesian aquifer basin, Garni and Aparan-Kuchak springs. Of the mineral waters deposists can be distinguished Jermuk, Arzni, Dilijan, and Bjni deposits.

Extensive works have been performed on studying the regional geology in the country’s territory. Various maps have been made up of 1: 200,000 and 1: 50,000 scale, and for some regions - of 1: 25,000 and 1: 10,000 scale.

In the 1939-1990s, the total public funding for the geological prospecting and exploration works performed in the country amounted approximately to 494.0 mln roubles.

However these geological prospecting and exploration works failed to record successful results in oil and gas prospecting. There were small deposits of combustible gas and oil found during those years. Nonetheless, these works indirectly resulted in discovery of a large salt basin in one of the districts of Yerevan City and new mineral resources, as well as obtaining valuable geological information on the deep geological structure of the area.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the annual public funding for the geological prospecting and exploration works in the country reached unprecedented levels and in the 1980s reached 21 million roubles (equivalent to 25 mln USD). After the collapse, these levels have sharply decreased. However, before the crisis in 1995-1996, the state financing of geological exploration works constituted approximately 400 mln AMD. Presently, these works are carried out mostly by private companies at their own cost and resources.

Over the past 25 years the country’s mineral resource base has estensively expanded as a result of private investments. More than 300 non-metallic mines and metallic mines such as Teghut copper-molybdenum, Amulsar gold-bearing quartzite, Mghart and Tukhmanuk gold-bearing mines, etc., have been explored and put into operation.

 

REPUBLICAN GEOLOGICAL FUND

 

Intense works and determined efforts in geological exploration in the Republic of Armenia started to be undertaken in the 1930s of the last century. Proceeding from the need for registering, coordinating, maintaining and summarizing the geological data obtained as a result of the carried-out works, the Republican Geological Fund was established adjacent to the Armenian State Geological Department under Decision No. 2042 of the USSR Council of People’s Commissars as of 27 of November, 1937, which until now has been fulfiling the assigned functions.

The table below provides a brief history of the Geological Fund of Armenia:

Name of organization

Headed by

Years in office

Geological Fund

 

P.P. Taniryan

1938 - 1951

T.N. Tumanyan

1951 - 1960

L.M. Radopulou

1960 - 1969

R.S. Tsaturyan

1969 - 2001

R.A. Harutyunyan

2001 - 2002

The Republican Geological Fund State Non-Commercial Organization

R.A. Harutyunyan

2002 - 2007

G.S. Hovsepyan

2007 - present

 

Presently, the Republican Geological Fund State Non-Commercial Organization employs 13 employees working in the following stucture:

Managerial staff

Finance and Accounting Division

Registration and Information Division

State Cadaster for Mineral Resources Division

Services Division

Technical Service Staff.

It should be noted that at the time of the establishment of the Geological Fund there were only 1250 reports registered. For over 80 years a powerful database has been developed, and presently the Republican Geological Fund incorporates more than 12,500 items, including on 871 mines of mineral resources (of which 43 metallic, 760 non-metallic, 44 underground freshwater and 24 mineral waters), as well as 580 ore occurrences (of which 131 metallic and 449 non-metallic), more than 130 mineral resources, of which about 25 metallic.

Of over 7500 of the accounted materials are reports with their mapping and graphic packages, and approximately 5000 of the accounted materials are other stock items (wells datasheets and reference cards, mining field files (passports), mining permits and contracts, data on mineral resources balance and inventory movement, etc.).

According to the RA Government Decision No. 1758-N as of 31 of October 2002, the Republican Geological Fund State Non-Profit Organization was established on the basis of the geological fund, and the latter was entitled not only to fulfilling functions of merely storing and maintaining information on subsurface, but also coordinating and analyzing it, acknowledging   interconnection of the functions and the effectiveness of implementation of actions.  

The Organization’s functions are:

  • ensuring state registration for subsurface areas provided for geological exploration in the territory of the Republic of Armenia and mineral extraction in the areas assigned for industrial extraction, as well as approval and management of documents on subsurface resources management, annual reports on mineral resources balance and inventory movement;
  • keeping state balance of mineral resources;
  • maintaining state cadastre of mines, deposits and occurrences of minerals;
  • approving, storing, maintaining and providing the data and information obrained as a result of the works performed towards geological study;
  • creating a unified system of geological information;
  • correlating end-point coordinates of the subsurface of the areas allocated through global coordinates with the fund’s data;
  • establishing and maintaining subsurface resources management fund based on the data on mineral resources, mines, deposits, ore occurences, as well as state registration data accounted at the Geological Fund.

Provision of services:

  • provision of the fund’s materials to be acquianted with at the reading hall of the Geological Fund;
  • copying, scanning and printing documents containing information and data on the subsurface available at the Geological Fund.

The textual and graphic information and data on subsurface are stored in hardcopies (in paper format), which have worn out over time and cause serious complications for subsequent use.

Given the fact that the loss of geological information on subsurface can be irreparable, and recognizing the importance of the information stored in the Geological Fund, the Fund’s materials, beginning fom the second half of 2016 following the RA Government Decision, have been digitizing, the completion of which is scheduled for late 2017.

These works have resulted also in creation of a website, which will include the full database of the digitized data.

Creation of the unified system of geological information is an ongoing process. It is carried out through accounting and analyzing the materials available at the Fund and regularly submitted there.

The Republican Geological Fund State Non-Commercial Organization is unique in itself and by its functions in the country. Information provided by the Republican Geological Fund State Non-Commercial Organization can serve as a basis not only for the Ministry of Energy Iinfrastructures and Natural Resources of the Republic of Armenia, but also for other departments and subdivisions to fulfil the functions entrusted to them in the field of subsurface resources management. It is also a huge information base for academia, student community, representatives of civil society, businesses and other stakeholders.