Yugyd Va National Park

A consortium led by Fosun International is negotiating to acquire a majority stake in GV Gold Russian gold mine company (another name OJSC “Vysochaishy”), according to some sources information. Fosun might team up with Zhaojin Mining Industry. The deal could have a value to GV Gold up to $1-billion, it is said. Fosun International LTD, which islisted on the main board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, is a part of the Shanghai based Fosun Holding conglomerate.

A presentation by the Fosun CEO posted on June 5,2019 features a map highlighting assets in a location identical to the location of Virgin Komi Forests World Heritage Site, where GV Gold has attempted to start gold mining.

GV Gold is controlled by the owners of the Moscow-based Lanta Bank. Sergey Dockuchaev, the owner of Lanta Bank, is a business partner to Stanislav Chemezov, son of Sergey Chemezov, who is the head of Rostek State Corporation and is close to president Putin. 

GV Gold[i]had several gold mines and one of them, the Chudnoe gold mine, is located within the boundaries of the National Park Yugyd Va – the first Russian natural territory that came under the protection of UNESCO as part of Virgin Komi Forests WH Site in 1995.

In 2009, the exploration company Gold Minerals, owned by GV Gold, obtained a license for the development of the Chudnoe gold mine. In January 2010, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment decided to adjust the boundaries of the Yugyd Va National Park and withdraw Chudnoe gold mine from it. The company began to work on the ground, but in 2013, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation canceled the decision of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, which had changed the boundaries.  

In 2011 Vysochaishy sold Gold Minerals to unknown owners by the time. Nevertheless, representatives of Vysochaishy participated in another meeting on adjusting the boundaries of the national park Yugyd Va in 2015. In May 2019 the company sent documents for a meeting with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, in which the exclusion of the above-mentioned areas from the national park was requested. This means that the company is still very interested to exploit this gold mine and very likely still owns it through affiliated off-shore companies in Cyprus.

In October 2018, Sergey Gaplikov, the head of the Komi Republic, sent a letter to Dmitry Kobylkin, the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, with a request to work out the issue of “expanding the territory of the National Park”, to withdraw from its territory some “mountain areas that have lost environmental value”[ii]. 

Recently, Russian media Kommersant, published information that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment had ordered some institutes to prepare a justification to exclude about 50 thousand hectares from the National Park Yugyd Va.

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee has repeatedly insisted that Russia stops any industrial activity within the boundaries of Virgin Komi Forests Property, withdraws the license for goldmining in the National Park and reverse the boundary changes which removed the legal protection status[iii].

If these requirements are not met, it could lead to the inscription of the site to the World Heritage in Danger List next year. This would be extremely disgraceful. 

International and Russian conservation organizations call upon Fosun to state that it has a policy that it will not engage into mining that may harm World Heritage Sites and request that GV Gold subscribes to similar policies, and in the future will not engage into any attempts to exploit gold mining in World Heritage Site areas. Fosun should not proceed with the acquisition of Russian mining assets until the license, issued for the current World Heritage Site to Gold Mineral Company, is annulled by the Russian authorities.

 

 [i]GV Gold is controlled by the owners of the Moscow-based Lanta Bank. This bank is well-known in Russia for several scandals (http://www.lanta.ru/about/bank-information/shareholders/). For example, in 2017, a criminal case of fraud was initiated against Lanta Bank when dozens of actors, musicians and composers lost their money from the personal bank accounts of in total 1 billion rubles. (http://www.moscow-post.su/economics/dokuchaevy_menjajut_bank_na_zoloto26353).

Sergey Dockuchaev, the owner of Lanta Bank, also owns about 51% of Medfarmtehnologia company and 25% of Lanta Telecom Company. In both cases one of his partners is Stanislav Chemezov, son of Sergey Chemezov, head of the Rostek State Corporation.

 (http://www.moscow-post.su/economics/dokuchaevy_menjajut_bank_na_zoloto26353).  

[ii]Meanwhile, scientists from the Institute of Biological Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Komi Republic, on the contrary, recognize a high conservation value of these mountain sites as the habitat of about 70 species of rare plants, which are in regional and national lists of endangered species (Red Book).   

[iii]According to the decision 36 COM 7B.24, the World Heritage Committee

“Deeply regrets that the State Party has not implemented the key recommendations of the UNESCO/IUCN mission, namely to immediately halt the planned gold mine within the property and to reverse the boundary changes which removed the legal protection status of four areas within the property, including the 19.9 square km gold mining site;

Expresses its utmost concern that since its 35th session, full-scale gold mining preparatory works have begun within the property;

Reiterates its utmost concern with regard to the boundary changes of the northern component of the property, Yugyd Va National Park (YVNP), which removes the protection status of these areas, and about the approval of a gold mine within the property at Chudnoe;

Encourages the State Party to pursue its efforts for the protection of the property as a whole under its initial boundaries in accordance with existing legislation and regulations; 

Considers that these issues constitute a danger to the property’s Outstanding Universal Value, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention”.

According to the decision 40 COM 7B.99, World Heritage Committee

“Reiterates its established position that mining exploration and exploitation are incompatible with World Heritage status, and requests the State Party to ensure that no mining exploration or exploitation will be permitted within the boundaries of the property as established at the time of inscription;

Reiterates its requests to the State Party to revoke the mining exploration and exploitation licenses granted for the Chudnoe gold mine and urges the State Party to restore the areas damaged by the mining-related activities, which were undertaken in 2011 and 2012”.

According to the decision 42 COM 7B.78 (http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3667), World Heritage Committee

“notes with concern that, according to official information, the license granted to the ZAO “Gold Minerals” company for exploration and extraction at the Chudnoe gold deposit has been extended, and therefore urges the State Party to:

a) Clarify the status of the license of the Chudnoe gold deposit,

b) Unequivocally revoke the mining exploration and exploitation licenses granted for the Chudnoe gold deposit, as requested in previous Committee decisions

c) Ensure that the removal of the ZAO “Gold Minerals” company’s equipment from the property is completed by September 2018 as imposed by the Arbitration Court of the Republic of Komi,

d) Restore the areas damaged by the mining-related activities, which were undertaken in 2011 and 2012;

Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the entire property, including the Pechoro-Ilychskiy Nature Reserve and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 44th session in 2020”.

Tags
#unesco #VirginKomiForests #WorldHeritage