Mining site in Gadabay, Azerbaijan
Mining site in Gadabay, Azerbaijan

The potential of natural resources in the occupied territories

10 mins read

Nagorny Karabakh and adjacent administrative regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan – Lachin, Kelbajar, Gubadli, Zangilan, Jebrayil, Agdam (regional center and a large part of the territory) and Fizuli (regional center and a large part of the territory) were occupied by Armenia from 1989 to 1993.

Nagorny Karabakh and adjacent administrative regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan – Lachin, Kelbajar, Gubadli, Zangilan, Jebrayil, Agdam (regional center and a large part of the territory) and Fizuli (regional center and a large part of the territory) were occupied by Armenia from 1989 to 1993. At present, Armenians transgressed a total of 558 km of the state border – the 198 km Azerbaijani-Iranian border from Horadiz settlement of the Fizuli region to the borders of the Zangilan region, and 360 km Azerbaijani-Armenian border. These territories are now under complete control of the Armenian military forces. Armenian forced destroyed buildings, outposts, frontier posts and demarcation lines from the USSR period along the border. The occupied areas along the Azerbaijani-Iranian borders are currently used for uncontrolled smuggling and sometimes for transportation of drugs. Construction materials for residential and public building and cut forest trees are transported from the occupied regions of Azerbaijan through the seized borders to Iran by Armenia.

This robbery, inherited from the ancient historical times, carried out by Armenia which currently introduces itself as a “civilized” state throws down a challenge not only to Azerbaijan but to the world community which shuts its eyes to all of that.

Other from that, the Kerki settlement of Sadarak region in Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, Ashagi Akipara, Yukhari Askipara, Gushchu Ayrim, Barkhudarli settlements of Gazakh region and other ones situated at the Azerbaijan-Armenia border were destroyed and occupied.

The occupation of these villages represents a serious danger to the water reservoir, which was built on the Agstafa River and is of a high economic importance for the western regions of Azerbaijan. Irrigation canals with a length of 72.3 km supply 120 million cubic meters of water from the Agstafa reservoir to agricultural areas in the foothills, and to the settlements of Gazakh, Agstafa, Tovuz and Shamkir administrative regions.

Nagorny Karabakh is the only conflict area in the former USSR where the borders of an autonomous republic were exceeded and surrounding territories were occupied as well. For example, the conflict area in Abkhazia autonomous republic does not cross the limits of the autonomous republic and not a single inch of the surrounding territories was occupied. What are the international principles and laws which were followed in occupation of Nagorny Karabakh and surrounding regions of Azerbaijan – Lachin, Kelbejer, Gubadli, Zangilan Jabrayil, Fizuli and Agdam.

The occupied areas have different natural monuments, rare species of plants and animals. Occupied mountain zone of the Small Caucasus is a wide forest region. The total forest area is 246,700 hectares.

There were established several natural reserves and game reserves in the occupied territories of the Minor Caucasus in order to preserve the natural landscape, rare specires of plants and animals. Among them are Basimchay reserve, Lachin game reserve and others. Basimchay reserve was established in 1974 in Basimchay ravine of the occupied Zangilan area in the South-West of Azerbaijan. It occupies an area of 107 hectares covered with Eastern planes. The plane forests stretch to 12 km along the river. Some trees are over 500 years old. The Eastern Plane is entered into the Red Book.

Lachin game reserve was established in 1961 in the occupied Lachin region of Azerbaijan. Its area is 21,4 thousand hectares. Caucasian goats (about 400 heads), roe deers (500), steppe wild boars (400), francolins (800), partridges (2500) were protected in this game reserve. The Khary Bulbul, which can be found only in Shusha area in Azerbaijan, is a symbol of Karabakh.

The occupied regions are rich in underground and land natural resources. The most widespread minerals are nonferrous metal ores, gold, mercury, chromite, pearlite, lime, marble, agate, mineral waters and others. The resort-recreation potential of the territory is wide too. The list of the minerals deposits of the occupied by the Armenians regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan is in the bottom table.

The list of the mineral deposits in the occupied regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan


Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Gold 1.Gyzylbulag 13,6 in number
(copper-47,9 thousand t.)
Lead 1.Mehmana 37,3 th.t.  
Zink   40,4 th.t.  
Copper 1. Demirli
2. Janyatag-Gulyatag
600(gold-5 in number)
Block stone Aghdere
38080th. m3
6423 th. m3
2129 “-“
Plasterboard Aghdere 200 th. t.  
Subsurface fresh waters Aghdere   126,6 th. Cubic meter/a day

Shusha region

Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Faced stone Shusha 1140 th.Cubic meter  
Loam Shusha 397 “-“  
Building stone Shusha village 12434 th. t.  
Subsurface fresh waters     3,89 th. Cubic meter/a day
Mineral waters Shirlan 342 Cubic meter/a day  

Khojali region

Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Loam Khojali 962 th.Cubic meter             
Faced stone Zerinbakh
24 “-“
Sand-gravel Hankendi(Askaran) 7280 “-“             
Subsurface fresh waters Hankendi area 9 th. Cubic meter /a day             

Khojavend region

Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Faced stone Edish 2034 th. Cubic meter  
Building stone Khojavend 990 “-“  
Subsurface fresh waters Khojavend   90,33 th. Cubic meter daily


Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Gold 1.Zod (soyudlu)
112,5 in number

5 in number
8 in number
Mercury 1.Agyatag
4. aggaya
190 t.
503 t.(stibium-1000t)
30 t.

150 t.

Block stone 1.kilsali 10927 th. Cubic meter  
Loam 1.keshdek 1312 “-“  
Pearlite 1.kechaldag 4473 “-“  
Sand-gravel 1. challi 2540 “-“  
Building stone 2. deposit   12,34 mil. Cubic meter
Faced stone 3. deposit   2,2 mil. Cubic meter
Precious stone:      
– obsidian 1. deposit   2337 t
– onyx 4. deposit   1756 t.
– pefritoide 2. deposit   801 t.
– listvrnite 1. deposit   1067 Cubic meter
Mineral waters Yukhary istisu
Ashagi istisu
Tutkhun garasy
Tutkhun Mozchay
825 Cubic m.r/ a day
640 “-“
700 “-“
600 “-“
150 “-“
70 “-“



Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Mercury 1.Chilkaz
733,8 t.
441,6 t.
Block stone Ahmedli 4752 th. Cubic meter  
Faced stone Hojaz 2533 “-“  
Building stone Lachin
1 deposit
4457 “-”  1,7 mil. Cubic meter
Loam Novruzlu 998 “-“  
Sand-gravel Yukhary-Akarachay 15794 “-“  
Pumice stone Gushchu 2144 “-“  
Vermuculite 3 deposit   10449 th.t.
Pumice stone and volcanic ashes 17 deposit   46,2 mil. Cubic meter
Agate 1 deposit   10 t.
Iodine 1 deposit   0,9 t.
Faced stones 4 deposit   14,7 mil. Cubic meter
Mineral waters Minkend 4300 Cubic meter/a day  


Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Block stone Hajyly 6118 th. Cubic meter  
Loam Hanlyg 990 th. Cubic meter  
Building stone 3 deposit   3,0 mil. Cubic meter
Faced stone 5 deposit   18,4 mil.Cubic meter
Precious stone 1 deposit   1,1 th. t.
Subsurface fresh waters Gubatly   84 th. Cubic meter/
a day


Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Gold Veynali 6,5 t.(copper-3,0 th.t.)  
Faced stone Okhchuchay 6618 th. Cubic meter  
Lime stone for the soda production Zangilan 129833 “-“  
Loam Zangilan 1102 “-“  
Building stone Bartaz-I
3903 “-“
24927 “-“
6028 “-“
Sand-gravel Zangilan 17367 “-“  
Sand Sharifan 2937 th. Cubic meter                     


Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Block stone Tuluz 296 “-“ 2,0 mil. Cubic meter
Loam Garajaly
4672 th. Cubic meter  
Sand Soltanly
4 deposit
762th. Cubic meter  0,88 mil. Cubic meter


Damp cement Goyarchin-Veysalli 6644 th. t.  
Plasterboard Minbashyly 1325 “- “  
Building stone Agtapa 5226 th.t.  
Sand-gravel Jafarabad 4130 th. t.  
Gypsum, anhydride, plasterboard 7 deposit   5,74
Pumice stone and volcanic ashes 3 deposit   3,73 mil. Cubic meter
Precious stone:      
-jasper Shahverdiler   504 t.
-chalcedony Chakhmakhgaya   1348 t.
Subsurface fresh waters Regional resources of the lowlands in the foothills of Jebrayil    


Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Block stone Dovletyarly
15449 th. Cubic meter
Loam Kurdmahmudlu 11211 “-“  
Sand-gravel Guruchay 13047 “-“  
Subsurface fresh waters Mountainous Region Fizuli Jabrail   204,3 th. Cubic meter/ a day


Types of the minerals Name of the minerals deposit Resources
Industrial forecast
Block stone Shahbulag 64767  
Faced stone Gulably 3999 “-“  
Damp cement Chobandag
140464 th.t.
44709 “-“
Loam Aghdam 1599 th.Cubic meter  
Sand-gravel Gargarchay-1
Gargarchay- II
17500 “-“
7230 “-“
12099 “-“
Subsurface fresh waters Groundwaters of Gargarchay
Delta of the river Gargarchay (Agdam area) Ovruzlu-Yusifli area
Regional resoucers of the lowlands in the foothill of Karabakh
29,4 th.Cubic meter/a day
72,23 th. Cubic meter/a day
1857,9 “-“


The tables are based on the information of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural resources of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

As you can see, the rare and valuable mineral deposits have spread over the occupied region. Copper and zinc resources are concentrated in the Mehmana deposit place in western part of the Minor Caucasus. Explored ore resources are ready for the exploitation in this area. Mercury resources of industrial significance are in Shorbulag and Agyatag of Kelbejer region.

Occupied regions are rich in different types of building materials, which are of great importance for Azerbaijan industry and building. Large resources of such materials are found in Chobandag located in the territory of Agdam region (lime resources are 140 million ton and clays are 20 million ton); Shahbulag (25 million ton of clays resources); Boyahmedi (45 million ton of clays resources) and other deposits. Large building stone deposits are in Hankendi, and the marble is in Harovdad.

There are more than 120 different compositions mineral water deposits of with high treatment capacity in the occupied areas. Among them are Yukhary (Upper) and Ashahy (Lower) Istisu, Bagyrsag, Keshdak in Kelbejer region; Iligsu, Minkend in Lachin region, Turshsu, Sirlan in Shusha region and other mineral waters attract particular attention. Istisu mineral water of Kelbajar region stands out particularly for the useful gas and chemical composition, high temperature, large natural resources. Its waters are useful both for the treatment of external and internal diseases.

A large resort and mineral waters packing factory were built on this spring in the 80s. This factory produced 800 thousand litres a day.

Turshsu (salt water) mineral spring is to 17 km of Shusha. Turshsu is used for different internal illnesses treatment, Shusha supply with the water through the water pipe. Turshsu and Isa springs for many centuries were the places where hold poetic and musical meetings of Karabakh.

It is significant that 39,9% of general geological resources of Azerbaijan mineral waters are located in the occupied areas.

One of the main conditions of the formation of national territories is close internal economic relations. At present, former Nagorny Karabakh Autonomous Region which fell a victim of the unfounded territorial claims of Armenia, was always a part of Azerbaijan and governed by its political system. The center of the region Hankendi directly connects with Azerbaijani railways and highways and in whole with the transport-commucation system of the republic. Railway from this center to Baku extends to 392 km.

The most part of the Armenians in Nagorny Karabakh had close relations with Baku. A lot of their family members lived in high social-economic level and worked in this city. Represented by the Soviet authorities malicious nationalist A. Mikoyan, taking into the consideration the factor of economic relations which play a very important role on 20 May 1920 wrote: “Agentes of Armenia State Dashnak try to unite Karabakh and Armenia, but this will deprive the population of Karabakh of their living sources – Baku and they will be forced to direct their views to Yerevan which has no relations with them”.

Truth said above by the Armenians leader that Nagorny Karabakh economically always was an inseparable part of Azerbaijan explains by the geographical position and special features of nature of in this area. Thus, the mountainous part of Karabakh developed close economic relations with low-lying Karabakh for many centuries.

The ways along the river mouth firmly connect these two areas in economical way. Occupation by the Armenians of the Yukhary (Upper) Karabakh, in defiance of all this historical-geographical reality and its forcible separationrom the low land Karabakh created serious problems for the population and economy of the region.

For long years most of the enterprise located in Karabakh used fuel, raw materials and materials brought from Azerbaijan regions, many were the branches of Baku large-scale enterprises.

The former Nagorny Karabakh had the multilateral connections with Azerbaijan in the following directions:

  1. Production cooperative relations – that is, merely production relations, including over feed-fuel sources;
  2. commodity circulation;
  3. material-technical equipment;
  4. transport-cargo relations;
  5. scientific-and-technical relations;
  6. public administration relations;
  7. cultural enlightener relations and others.

So, analysing every demonstrated relations it is possible to create a real view of the close relations between Nagorny Karabakh and Azerbaijan in that period. It is enough to point out that 8% of all raw silk cocoon incoming to the Karabakh Hankendi large-scale Silk Industrial complex in 1985 were produced in Nagorny Karabakh. The rest 92% were brought from other Azerbaijan regions. In 1986 in the field of external economic relations Nagorny Karabakh export quota with Armenia Republic was 0,3%, import – 1,4%, the export with Azerbaijan came to 33,3%, and an import quota was much higher.

United transport-communication system, operating in the occupied territories for many years were destroyed because of Armenia aggression. Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic situated aside from Karabakh zone and blockaded by Armenia suffers from this destruction very much.

With relation to transport-communication system Nagorny Karabakh territory are a far away from the capital of Armenia Yerevan and other large economic centers; the mountainous roads connected them are not suitable for cargo transportation because of natural disasters.

So, all currently occupied by Armenia regions have been closely related with Azerbaijan. Transport-communication system, tendency to common economy formed the base of these relations. Consequently there no any basis for the territorial claims of the Armenians only based on their national self-determination principles directed to Nagorny Karabakh which from the social-economic point of view is inseparable part of Azerbaijan.

Invaders regarding Azerbaijan as their property destroyed the important historical monuments in Shusha which was the historical capital of Karabakh, destructed national architecture, and rebuild them as they want.

In Azerbaijan Lachin corridor in the view of military engineering are hold completely new construction works.

Occupation of Azerbaijan lands and making there all wishful changes is not acceptable from the contemporary international law point of view. With relation to international law all resources in this area continue to be a property of Azerbaijan. This property only temporarily considers to be occupied and undoubtedly it must be return to its legal owner which is Azerbaijan.

All this confirms that the Nagorny Karabakh conflict which is presented as the efforts of national minorities for free definition of their fate has no any legal, social-economic base.

Water sources are under the blockade

Water problem solving is of great importance for Azerbaijan today. Since Azerbaijan is considered as a droughty region the development of irrigative agriculture, providing the cities and villages with water is a vitally important for the country. Close river network in the occupied mountains of the Small Caucasus are of great importance for the water resources forming in the Republic. The rivers taken their sources from these mountains, particular related to the Kura right branch Terter, Hakari, Hachinchay, Kondelenchay and others supply with large quantities of water the low-lying regions, the artificial lakes and irrigation canal are built on some of their. One of the complexes used in irrigation and receiving the electric energy is Terter hydrocomplex. This complex was built in 1976 at the expense of given for Azerbaijan SSR investments. The blockade by Armenia these and others vital for Azerbaijan irrigative systems and water sources changed into the great threat source for our country.

Sarsang reservoir and power station built on this Tartar hydrocomplex are currently under the control of the Armenian military forces. Volume of Sarsang reservoir is 560 thousand cubic meter. Long-distance channels taken their sources from this reservoir irrigate 80,1 thousand hectare of the low-lying regions Terter, Agdam, Barda, Goranboy. At present because of the occupation of the canals by the Armenians the crops in the mentioned regions don’t yield a harvest.

Department of Economic and Social Geography of BSU

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