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Премия рунета 2017

WWF-Russia calls for suspension of placer gold mining in Kamchatka

04 june 2020
WWF-Russia intends to request information on a project of placer gold mining in the Goltsovskaya area. Environmentalists have reason to believe that further development of the deposit may adversely affect the biodiversity and recreational potential of the peninsula, as well as have irreparable damage to fishing industry and the well-being of local communities.

A year ago, WWF-Russia called for a moratorium on the extraction of placer gold in Kamchatka. A new wave of public discussion of gold miners’ activity on the Goltsovskaya area site demonstrates the need to take into account the interests of all parties, including fishermen and local residents. The resonance video published on the Internet shows the consequences of the first stage of the gold mining company’s activity. WWF-Russia is confident that the work on the site should be suspended until a comprehensive assessment of the project, its compliance with environmental laws and requirements. Public hearings and discussions must be conducted involving all interested parties.

The development of the deposit at the Goltsovskaya area site is carried out by Dalstroy LLC. The company received a license for exploration and mining in this area in 2017, despite a negative scientific assessment of the project made by Kamchatka branch of Russina Federal Research Institute of Fisheries and Oceanography. The licensed site is located in two districts of Kamchatka krai, in the basins of the Bystraya, Utka, Srednyaya and Blizhnaya Goltsovka and Plotnikova river basins. The Bystraya River is a popular tourist route for rafting.

“The case with the Dalstroy company is a vivid example of the lack of thought in decisions of socio-economic development, especially in terms of environmental consequences. The district authorities, scientists, and ecologists opposed this project. All of them pointed to the extremely negative impact that the project would have on birds and animals living in the area, as well as on the water quality in the rivers. The deposit development threatens salmon stocks, which will have inevitable influence on fishermen and local communities. The destruction of the river ecosystem will negatively affect the tourism business. However, these opinions were not heard,” said Sergey Rafanov, director of the Kamchatka/Bering Sea Ecoregional Office of WWF-Russia.

As a rule, the placer gold mining does not result in any significant financial income to the budgets of the local and regional level. Being state property, minerals are subject to direct federal tax.
At the same time, mining in the riverhead inevitably leads to siltation of spawning grounds. Accidents when water erodes dams built to divert a channel are possible challenges. Such incidents can destroy river valleys and take human lives. The last tragic incident occurred last year, in October, in the Krasnoyarsk region.

Given that Dalstroy intends to mine a total of 943 kg of gold on five rivers over the next 20 years (license validity period), the estimated benefits of gold miners cannot be even compared to environmental risks.

The whole story with Goltsovskaya area is about neglect of the interests of fishermen and local communities. WWF-Russia is confident that the project documentation should be assessed additionally with the involvement of both specialists and public, in order to take into account the views of all interested parties. Until the end of these discussions, any activity on the site should be suspended.

The images in the preview and the head of the article are taken from the video shot on site. They demonstrate the results of gold mining company's activity in the area possibly threatening salmon spawning rivers.
For additional information please contact
Head of WWF Kamchatka/Bering Sea Ecoregional Office