Stop dirty prospecting for gold
WWF summed up the results of satellite monitoring of river pollution caused by pacer gold mining, which was carried out in March 15 - October 15, 2020 in six provinces of the Russian Far East by the Rivers without Boundaries Сoalition with the support of the Presidential Grants Fund and the People for Nature project.
Upon the revealed facts of river pollution, 260 reports had been sent to federal and provincial ecological inspections. It should be noted that after active work and a series of inspections organized by the Amursky Administration of Rosprirodnadzor and the Amursky Ministry of Natural Resources, 17 companies were charged penalties at 3,606,000 rubles (more than US$ 45 000), 7 companies were sued for environmental damage at the amount of 16,776,228 rubles (US$ 220 000), 31 warning notes were sent to the companies on the inadmissible actions that may cause damage to the environment.
Mining companies operating in Amurskaya province were charged the biggest amount in fines and lawsuits: 2,131,000 rubles in fines and 16,389,759 rubles for damage, including LLC “VVP” mining company which received 580 000 rubles fine and more than 10 million rubles lawsuit for damage. This July, this company has discharged oil products into the Selemdzha River within its licensed gold field. Moreover, the procedure of early termination of the license was initiated against this company. Three more companies in early November were imposed to suspend the activity for 90 days period.
Moreover, the Amursky Administration of Rosprirodnadzor began recruiting inspectors to monitor the northern districts with the most intense gold mining activities: Selemdzhinsky, Zeysky and Tyndinsky. Regular presence of inspectors with delegated rights to record and halt violations of environmental legislation will help to reveal violations and prevent serious damage to the environment in the future.
Next year, WWF Russia together with the coalition of nature conservation organizations will continue satellite monitoring of river pollution and training public inspectors to detect violations “on the ground”. Moreover, WWF is preparing an appeal to the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation with a package of proposals to amend legislation in order to reduce the impact of placer gold mining on the environment. The appeal is based on the position adopted in October 2020 by the Coalition (http://zolotari.net/position).
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: The prospecting license provides the right to explore new mineral fields in the areas that have not been previously subjected to geological exploration. Holders of this type of license do not have the right to mine gold in the licensed areas. However, practice shows that most of small enterprises launch actual gold mining operations after receiving these licenses by declarative procedure, without an auction. At the same time, they do not build required infrastructure in order to hide the fact of gold extraction in case of inspection.
The People for Nature project is being implemented by WWF Russia in 2019-2022 with support of European Union. It is aimed at engaging wider audience in environmental protection, protection of the forests, reduction of environmental impact caused by industrial processes and increase the environmental responsibility of business.