A large-scale inspection of gold-mining enterprises has begun in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The districts repeatedly reported about the miners' barbaric attitude to nature this season. The “crusading war” against the companies was approved by Alexander Uss, the Governor of the territory.
According to experts, the share of placer mines in Russia has been falling for the past 20 years. Despite this, it is still quite high and amounts to 13% of all proven reserves. The global share of alluvial deposits is 7%. According to the Siberian Federal Institute, the average gold content in the dredged sand is now 0.13 g per tonne. The downward trend in the average gold content of the placer is obvious and irreversible, resulting in lower profitability of mining. The use of environmental equipment and the choice of the most environmentally friendly mining options pay off over a long period, at least, 10 years. This is why mining partnerships largely ignore them, as it is not economically viable for them. During the season they try to pan out enough gold dust, and there is no time and no money to spend on proper drainage and cleaning-up. The situation is getting worse every year.
For example, the situation in the Mansky District is serious. All summer long, residents complained about polluted rivers to the supervisory agencies. The last appeal was received at the beginning of September.
“At first, there were photos from the dwellers. As of today, space photographs provided by public environmental organizations and appeals of citizens have detected pollution of Kuvai, Solbiya, Kolba, and Mana rivers. The pollution affected Kolba and Ungut village councils with a total population of 1,277 people,” Head of the district Artem Chernykh told wek.ru.
Mana District is a favorite recreational area of Krasnoyarsk residents. It is located near the regional center and is known for picturesque places. For example, the well-known Mana loop served as the backdrop for the Ugryum River TV series recently broadcast by Channel One Russia. The Soviet film The Master of Taiga was shot near Mana river.
At the beginning of this week, the regional Ministry of natural resources announced inspections of the gold-mining enterprises that began with the central districts. The action looks like a real raid. Inspectors land on gold mining sites from the air wherever necessary. Many unscrupulous users of natural resources hope that it will be difficult to reach them for supervisors. However, representatives of the ministry, including its head, and the prosecutor's office, as well as experts from Glavrybvod [a watchdog agency for the conservation of aquatic biological resources] and the Federal Guard Service are parachuting there.
As a result, one enterprise in Sukhobuzimskiy District has been preliminarily caught red-handed. The only thing left to do is to obtain official expert evaluation data. Another company has been already suspended for numerous violations in the same Mana district. The facts of wastewater dumping into the river Kuvai from the sedimentation tank have been completely proved. Suspended solids standards were exceeded hundreds of times, iron 16 times, and copper 4.1 times. The Krasnoyarsk Environmental Prosecutor's Office initiated an administrative case.
“We are no longer limited to fines alone. Damages are calculated and charged to offenders. If a company repeatedly violates the law, its activities are suspended for 90 days, up to and including revocation of the license and termination of its activities. Gold-mining companies must get used to the new rules,” said Pavel Borzykh, Minister of Ecology and Environmental Management of the Krasnoyarsk Territory.
However, it is hard to believe that the situation will change for the better anytime soon. Placer licenses have been issued under a simplified procedure for seven years in Russia. According to the Federal Agency for Subsoil Usage (Rosnedra,), 41 development and mining permits were issued to gold miners in 2014. Already about 1,500 were given in 2020. 66% of the applications were for placer gold plots in Siberia and the Far East.
“The shift workers will leave in October, and the lawyers of the gold mining companies will step in. They have a chance to successfully challenge the fines due to our legislation. It is also worth remembering that obtaining a license for a placer deposit is declarative. That is, there is no auction, no environmental assessment, and no public hearings. A gold producer cannot even be refused if it has collected the whole package of documents,” said Alexander Kolotov, coordinator of the Rivers without Borders coalition.