The repairs of the Yepishino - North-Yenisei road, located in the north of the Krasnoyarsk Territory are about to be finished. For many years, this road was considered the most extreme in the area despite the fact that it is badly needed by major industrial enterprises. For example, there are the largest gold mining assets of Polyus [the largest gold producer in Russia and one of the top 10 gold mining companies globally by output.]
Wek.ru has previously covered this problem. The North-Yenisei district of the Krasnoyarsk Territory is a hard-to-reach area. One has to use a ferry across the Yenisei to reach the district centre by land. The crossing point is about 350 km from Krasnoyarsk, and then you have to drive some 300 km through the taiga. It was originally a haul road. To be more precise, it was rather a track. It was maintained by gold producers, working in the area, during the Soviet times and in the 1990's. After that, the road was put on the books of the Krasnoyarsk Road Administration, and the transport apocalypse started in the district. The budget did not have enough money to maintain the road in good condition. As the North-Yenisei district administration informed wek.ru, about 5 million tonnes of various goods are transported along it every year. These are foodstuffs and essential goods for the population. However, the main flow is industrial cargo for gold mining such as explosive materials, hazardous chemical substances, flammable liquids, fuels and technological equipment. It is easy to imagine what damage heavy duty trucks can do to the road which is not properly maintained.
Passenger cars did not even risk coming there. Locals preferred to fly to the “mainland.” Driving through the area was a challenge even for heavy vehicles, especially in the muddy weather. Eyewitnesses recall Kamaz trucks with their axles torn out, trailers swept away on the roadside or bulldozers buried up to their cabs in the mud. People are wary of numerous bears that come out onto the road in the search for food.
By 2014, the authorities had finally launched the works to upgrade the route. Negotiations were held with big businesses. Such deposits as Olimpiadinskoe, Blagodatnoe and Titimukha are located in the North-Yenisei district. Polyus's plans to increase production at them kept running into the problem with transportation.
The funds for repairs came from various sources, mostly from the budget. About a few hundred million roubles were allocated per year. Piecemeal repairs started with the most damaged sections, such as the stretch between the 157-th and 168-th kilometer which was upgraded this season. Allocations under the Safe Quality Roads national project have reached 450 million rubles ($6.21 mln). The repaired roadway will be tested and put in use later this autumn. It used to be the worst road in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, but now it is turning into a high quality highway, though unsurfaced one. Even now its traffic density at bottlenecks has reached about 1,000 cars per day versus 500 a few years before.
Late last year, Polyus and the government of the Krasnoyarsk Territory signed an agreement to develop the Blagodatnoye deposit. A new gold extraction plant is to be built there (the fifth one, owned by the company in the territory). The deal commits the authorities to repair the North-Yenisei-Yepishino road to usable condition. To put it simply, the gold miners invest in production and pay more taxes, while the region gives them the opportunity to export their products. “The losses caused by the bad road, wasted time and costs of repairs and materials are comparable to the price of three tons of gold,” head of the North-Yenisei district Ishmurat Gaynutdinov said.
The North-Yenisei District will be fully accessible by the autumn of 2023, when the construction of the bridge across the Yenisei near the Vysokogorsky settlement has been completed. In fact, this is one big project that includes the North-Yeniseisk-Yepishino highway upgrade. It is going to be the northernmost bridge in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The project, proposed back in the Soviet era, was only launched a year ago. Russian government allocations amounted to 6 billion rubles ($82.8 mln). The bridge will provide permanent connection between the Lower Angara districts (North-Yenisei, Boguchansky and Kezhemsky) and the left bank part of Krasnoyarsk Territory.
“The bridge is essential for gold miners in the North-Yenisei district, where 20% of all Russian gold is mined, to deploy a number of production facilities, including an antimony factory. Bridge construction will help materialize the plans for a new pulp and paper mill to boost timber processing and launch timber-chemical production,” Krasnoyarsk Territory governor Alexander Uss said.