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WWF EXPERTS DETECTED: gold mining polluted 2649 KILOMETERs of rivers in Siberia

20 october 2020
On the anniversary of the tragedy at a gold mine on the Seiba River, which killed 20 people, WWF-Russia and the Ministry of Ecology of the Krasnoyarsk Territory announced the results of monitoring of the of gold-mining companies in Southern Siberia in 2020, held within the framework of the People to Nature project with the support of the European Union

On the anniversary of the tragedy at a gold-mining site on the Seiba River in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, when a dam break caused the death of 20 people, WWF-Russia and the Rivers Without Borders Environmental Coalition announced the results of the first large-scale public monitoring of river pollution as a result of the activities of gold miners.

Monitoring was implemented by the Center for Satellite Monitoring and Civil Control (St. Petersburg) in June-September, 2020 within the framework of the WWF-Russia project "People for Nature", which is being implemented with the support of the European Commission. The expert used the Landsat 8 satellite images they could freely obtain. They analyzed some parts of the rivers of Southern Siberia in the following regions: Krasnoyarsk Territory, Republic of Tyva, Republic of Khakassia, Republic of Altai, Kemerovo Region, Republic of Buryatia, Altai Territory.

Pollution of Siberian rivers from gold-mining
(c) WWF

Totally, the experts analyzed and studied 188 images, identified river pollution below the gold mining sites with a length of 2,649 km, identified 78 facts of complex river pollution (including tributaries) at the sites of gold-mining. 

“We collected all experts’ survey on each pollution case and sent an official request to federal and regional environmental authoritiel data including maps, expertize and data on possible sources of pollution”, says Alexander Kolotov, Coordinator of the Rivers Without Borders environmental coalition, WWF expert.


Thanks to the cooperation of NGOs and eco-activists in 2020, the authorities and state regulatory bodies received and professionally prepared reports on the pollution of water bodies in the region downstream of gold mining sites, including remote and hard-to-reach places”, says Natalya Trofimova, Director of the WWF Representative Office in Altai -Sayan ecoregion.

River pollution in Kemerovskaya Regin due to gold-mining

“In 2020 at the beginning of the gold mining season, all parties agreed not to wait for official reports, but as soon as the data on pollution appears, to communicate by any available means to get the urgent data where we need to send the inspectors to check. The information of environmental NGOs and eco-activists allowed us to inspect 29 water bodies, and for each fact an excess of permissible water pollution was detected”, says Yulia Gumenyuk, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Environmental Management, Head of the Department of State Environmental Supervision of the Ministry of Ecology and Environmental Management of the Krasnoyarsk Territory.
The People for Nature project is implemented by WWF Russia and is funded by the EU. It aims at engaging a wider audience in environmental protection. The Project will run in 2019 – 2022. Its goals are to protect the forests through preventing degradation and illegal use of forests, and to reduce environmental impact caused by industrial processes through reducing air and water pollution and increasing the environmental responsibility of business.
For additional information please contact
Head of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregional Office