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“Polymetal” have carried out the environmental expertise without considering public opinion

29 october 2020
WWF Russia and environmental community are shocked by the evasion of Polymetal Company and its subdivision Kutynskaya Mining and Geological Company LLC from conducting a public environmental expertise for the gold mining project of the Kutynskoye gold field in Tuguro-Chumikansky district of Khabarovsky province.

Due to concealment of information about the dates appointed for the state environmental expertise and the delay in providing project materials (EIA, etc), the state environmental expertise has been carried out without taking into account the conclusion of the public environmental expertise.

According to Alexey Knizhnikov, head of the Program for the Business Environmental Responsibility at WWF-Russia:

“Russian language has a saying describing this situation – the cart has been put before the horse. The state environmental expertise has to be organized alongside with the public expertise. In other words, the company had to submit the environmental impact assessment (EIA) to the organization involved in public expertise before submitting it to the Rosprirodnadzor for state expertise. Violation of this regulation by Polymetal and its “daughter” company in Khabarovsky province kills the productive dialogue both in part of considering the opinion of stakeholders, as required by international standards, and in compliance with Russian legislation. We are preparing a letter to regulatory authorities”.

In order to prevent the negative impact of planned economic activity on the environment and avoid associated social and economic consequences of the Kutynskoye gold field development, in summer 2020, Khabarovsky branch of NGO All-Russian Society for Nature Conservation (VOOP) together with WWF-Russia Amur branch initiated the process of conducting a public environmental expertise of the project documentation.

In accordance with the law, VOOP has filed an inquiry for carrying out public expertise at the administration of Tuguro-Chumikansky district, formed an expert commission chaired by Dr. Voronov B.A., associate member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, acting scientific director of the Institute of Water and Environmental Problems of the Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, with the participation of professional experts in various fields of science.

Early in July, public hearings on the project development of Kutynskoye gold field were organized in Chumikan and Tugur settlements. They resulted in a request sent to Kutynskaya Mining and Geological Company to provide documentation for the projects "Mining and processing complex at Kutynskoye gold field" and “Development the Kutynskoye field by open cut. 1st stage. Transport unit.” in complete package with all amendments and additions at the moment.

Comments Vladimir Sidorov, council chair of Khabarovsky branch of NGO All-Russian Society for Nature Conservation (VOOP): “During the negotiations, representatives of Kutynskaya Mining and Geological Company LLC noted that the materials of the project documentation for the public environmental expertise will be provided to us after the follow-up revision, before the state environmental assessment. However, project materials were sent to us only on October 15, 2020. However, the positive conclusion of the state environmental impact expertise has been already issued on October 9, 2020. There were no notifications or announcements about the meeting of the expert commission of the state ecological expertise on Rosprirodnadzor website. We believe that the owner intentionally concealed from VOOP the fact of sending documents to the state environmental expertise, and we regard this as intentional impending to carrying out public environmental expertise of the project.”

According to the Law on Environmental Impact Assessment, public organizations carrying out public environmental expertise have the right to receive documentation from the owner. At the same time, non-submission of documentation for environmental impact assessment, evasion of providing to public organizations (associations) conducting public environmental expertise necessary materials, information and data are considered violations of the legislation of the Russian Federation.

Zarzhevsky Cape, the area of work of Kutynskoye gold field
"Friends of the Ocean" Project
Comments Peter Osipov, director of WWF Russia Amur branch: “The nature of the Russian Far East is unique and fragile at the same time. Therefore, any industrial development projects must be implemented with a minimum impact on the environment. To minimize such impacts, it is important to take into account the opinions of all stakeholders. In the case of Kutynskoye gold field we face the opposite situation. According to experts, the documents submitted for the public ecological expertise are incomplete. The company did not notify VOOP that it had already submitted documents for the state ecological expertise. Thus, it created obstacles for the experts to obtain public opinion. This approach shows the company's disinterest in obtaining clear and honest assessment of the project.

In connection with the potential threat of the projects implementation of the Kutynskoye gold field, possible negative socio-economic consequences of planned activities, as well as due to numerous remarks and violations of the legislation in the project documentation, Khabarovsky branch of VOOP considers it necessary to protect the rights of citizens and to contact environmental authorities and prosecutors. Despite the positive conclusion of the state environmental expertise of the project for the development of the Kutynskoye gold field, the public one will be completed and its results will be communicated to the public.

Khabarovsky regional branch of VOOP carries out the work on conducting the public environmental expertise of the Kutynskoye gold field with the support including the Presidential Grants Fund.

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