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WWF-Russia expresses deepest concerns about the plans of coal mining in Western Kamchatka

17 december 2019
The administration of the Kamchatka krai has appointed the beginning of the development of the Krutogorovsky coal deposit to November 2023. And this taking into account the fact that the project has neither technical documentation in the public domain nor the successful completion of all necessary environmental procedures.

In Western Kamchatka, and in particular in the area adjacent to the field, a large number of important salmon rivers flow. Most of them remain untouched by human activities and annually provide high salmon catch rates.

“It is alarming that the development plan for the Krutogorovsky coal deposit in 2023 was announced as if a decision on development had already been taken. This is very strange, given the fact that the project was not agreed with the public. Its environmental impact has not been assessed. State Environmental Expert Review has not been carried out as well. The risks of developing a deposit located in the area of salmon spawning grounds were not evaluated by anyone. There is no open-source technical documentation,” said Sergei Rafanov, director of the Kamchatka branch of the WWF-Russia.

The Indian company "Tata Power" is only planning to conduct exploration, in fact, guided by the approximate data of the Soviet period. It is not known exactly how the mining will be conducted. Given the tectonic specifics of the region, the mine method can hardly be called expedient. The hydraulic production method, considered the most environmentally friendly, is still at the experimental level. It is most obvious that mining will be conducted in the least environmentally friendly - open-pit method. At the same time, it is highly likely that huge areas will be contaminated with coal dust.

“Krutogorovsky deposit field of 1.4 sq. km is located 70 kilometers from the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk and at a distance of 90 km from the village of Sobolevo in Western Kamchatka. This area is adjacent to the waters of the West Kamchatka shelf. Shelf ecosystems play an important role in feeding, reproduction and migration of many species of birds, crustaceans, fish and marine mammals,” said Sergey Korostelev, coordinator of the WWF-Russia Sustainable Marine Fisheries Program.

For nearly ten years now, WWF-Russia has been advocating the establishing of a Fisheries Protected Zone (FPZ) in the West Kamchatka shelf and adjacent river basins. The Fund proposes to limit any economic activity, except fishing, in this area. Thus, the most biologically productive region of the Sea of Okhotsk will be protected from encroachments of mining and oil producing companies.

For additional information please contact
Head of WWF Kamchatka/Bering Sea Ecoregional Office