Economic boost as Russia’s largest coal mine opened in Siberia
When it is running at full capacity, it is expected that 10 million tonnes of coal will be produced from the new Arshanovsky pit in the Khakassia Republic.
The open-cast mine has met with stiff opposition from local residents concerned about the potential impact on pollution. Some fear drainage systems will be impacted with a threat to water supplies and fish life.
But management and environmentalists have insisted the site poses no risk, with the most modern technology being used to harness the coal and treat waste.
Welcoming the opening, Viktor Zimin, the head of the Khakassia Republic, said he hopes the new company will make the region the second-biggest in Russia in terms of mining.
He said: ‘This is ambitious, but it will have a direct impact on the opening of new industries, the creation of new jobs, and increasing welfare. Without industry, we cannot develop agriculture. We must raise ourselves to this higher status and then our president and prime minister will pay attention to us.’
The licence to use the site was received in May 2012, with plans to extract as much as two billion tonnes of coal over the course of a 167-year period.
At present there are 303 employees at the mine, 134 of them miners and the other 169 made up of contractors who will continue building the rest of the facility. This year parent company Razrez Arshanovsky plans to produce two million tonnes of coal, and by 2017 reach five million tonnes annually.
There have been concerns from people living in the nearby area, however, with some fearing pollution into the Abakan River. Residents in Arshanovo village have also complained about road closures near the mine.
But environmental experts from Moscow have insisted the project is safe, with all water going through a hi-tech treatment plant and into special ponds in which fish will be bred.
Razrez Arshanovsky has built the largest water treatment plant in Khakassia, and management say they are using the most modern mining technology available. There are further plans to build a modern industrial campus and a railway line to create a loading station for the coal.