MAC: Mines and Communities

Putin Vows To Get Rid Of Polluting Companies

Published by MAC on 2011-04-04
Source: PlanetArk (2011-03-31)

Safety measures also proposed for coal

Putin Vows To Get Rid Of Polluting Companies

PlanetArk

31 March 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said Russia will hike fines on polluting companies under a new bill set to target metals firms, as over one sixth of the country's territory is contaminated.

Russian metals and mining industry is still heavily dependent on coal energy and Soviet-era outdated technology, as almost 15 percent of Russia's 17 million square kilometers (10.5 square miles) is contaminated, according to expert estimates.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting to discuss the draft law, which has previously met with fierce opposition from industrial lobbies, Putin said it was essential to force companies to adopt "cleaner and green technologies."

"Without a doubt we need to get rid of dirty companies, guarantee high ecological standards and set tough regulations on violators," Putin said.

The new legislation aims to more than double duties on firms caught polluting from 2012 and more than triple them from 2016, Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev said.

"If there is no such stimulus, then firms will stick to old technology... and we will fall behind: not only behind on environmental protection, but in economic growth," Putin said.

In the European Union, he stressed, such environmental protection standards were adopted in 1996.

Putin's remarks follow the line taken by President Dmitry Medvedev, his successor, whom he steered to the Kremlin in 2008, as Medvedev has long vowed to modernize the country's energy inefficient economy, heavily dependent on exports of natural resources.

(Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)


Mine Safety Spending Outlined

Ten coal miners have been killed in shafts in Russia so far this year.

By Anatoly Medetsky

St Petersburg Times

9 March 2011

MOSCOW - Coal mining companies might have to set aside as much as a third of their combined profit from last year to increase safety spending, Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said Thursday.

The plan to force the companies, including Raspadskaya and Evraz, to earmark 24 billion rubles ($820 million) for safety measures over the next two years comes as 10 coal miners have died in shafts so far this year.

A total of 135 miners died at work in 22 accidents last year, mostly in the Raspadskaya disaster in May - a shock that triggered the nationwide tightening of the industry's safety rules.

The country's coal mining companies, which together operate 168 mines, collectively earned a profit of 73 billion rubles last year, Shmatko said.

Shmatko made the comments at a government meeting chaired by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that discussed progress in the national campaign to make the industry safer to work in. Other attendees included Severstal chief Alexei Mordashov, Raspadskaya director Gennady Kozovoi and SUEK chief Vladimir Rashevsky.

Ivan Mokhnachuk, chairman of the Independent Union of Coal Mining Workers, said at the meeting that suspected safety violations caused the 10 miners' deaths this year. He said the situation was especially worrisome at Russky Ugol mines, where most of the deaths occurred.

Nikolai Kutin, head of the Federal Service for Environmental, Technological and Atomic Inspection, said his subordinates, using new powers, suspended operations at coal mines scores of times last year until safety problems were rectified.

The measure didn't stop the industry from increasing output by 7 percent to 323 million tons because, Kutin said, they were able to catch up.

"That's unexpected," Putin responded.

Kozovoi said Raspadskaya was still battling the fire that broke out after the deadly methane explosion.

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