Environmental responsibility programs of the Russian Copper Company are presented to the UN
During a tour of the ECOTECH 2017 Exhibition, RF Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Sergey Donskoy and Honorable Forum delegate, UN Deputy Secretary General, Executive Director of the United Nations Program for the environment Erik Solheim visited the RCC stand. The Minister described the RCC Exhibition to the high ranking guest as an example of the high priority placed on environmental safety and environmental protection by a major Russian mining and metallurgical holding company.
RCC showcases its plans to eliminate the damage sustained by the Chelyabinsk region during the Soviet era. Natalia Gonchar, RCC Vice President for Environmental and Industrial Safety, presented to the honored guests a project for the remediation of disturbed land and elimination of hazardous facilities that used to cause environmental damage to the Karabash urban district. She also outlined the plan for phasing out the mining of the largest Eurasian open-cut coal pit Korkinsky near the city of Korkino. The RCC senior manager specifically focused on the plant renovation project and improvement of environmental safety at Karabashmed (a RCC subsidiary located in Karabash, Chelyabinsk region).
Natalia Gonchar, RCC Vice President for Environmental and Industrial safety: "Since 2004, more than 18 billion rubles have been allocated to the renovation of Karabashmed facilities and improvement of its environmental safety. About 2 billion rubles will be invested in 2018. The major aim of the plant renovation is not only to increase its efficiency but also to improve working conditions and minimize its impact on the environment. Thanks to large-scale upgrading of the production facilities, we have managed to reduce emissions by more than 20 times compared to 2000".
Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the UN Environment Program: "When we talk about positive changes for the environment, we take into account three major driving forces: the public, the authorities and the business community. They should join their efforts in solving the issues of environmental protection. It is obvious that we all want committed stakeholders to interact in this matter."
The city of Karabash, founded in 1822, is located in the North-West of Chelyabinsk region, 140 km away from the city of Chelyabinsk. Since its foundation the city has accommodated iron and steel production facilities.
The greatest environmental damage was caused in the XX century. The Karabash copper smelter, founded in 1910 and nationalized in 1917, operated for several decades without wastewater treatment facilities. Until 1989, copper mines and a beneficiation factory operated in the city area. As a result of neglect to environmental protection, vast areas of land were subjected to uncontrolled industrial impact. Due to emissions and industrial discharge, the concentration of harmful substances in the soil and water bodies of Karabash considerably exceeded permissible limits. The surface texture of the area sustained drastic damage.
In 2004, the old copper factory was converted into Karabashmed Plant and put under RCC management. The company immediately committed its efforts not only to increasing production efficiency but also to environmental upgrading. Major modifications of the chemical-metallurgical complex were carried out installing powerful filtration systems, replacing outdated shaft furnaces with an up-to-date Ausmelt model, building a second sulfuric acid facility for metallurgical gas disposal and installing a closed water circulation loop.
Upon completing the main renovation stage of the plant, RCC has turned to projects involving rectifying environmental damage sustained in the past.
Another pressing environmental issue of the Southern Urals is the Korkino open-cut coal pit. Industrial coal mining has been carried out there since 1934. Today this open-cut mine is the largest in Eurasia, measuring more than 500 meters in depth and about 3.5 km in diameter. The mine is a constant source of air pollution in the Chelyabinsk region, and the landslides occurring on its borders destroy houses and public buildings in Korkino and nearby settlements. Under the project the RCC is planning to eliminate the Korkino open-cut mine using backfill material produced from the tailings of the Tominsk mining and concentration complex (Tominsk GOK), which is being built by RCC in the Chelyabinsk region.
Upon completion of the project, the largest coal production site in Eurasia will be transformed into a lake with improved banks and landscaping and park features.
The technical feasibility and environmental safety of using backfill material produced from the tailings of Tominsk GOK to eliminate the open-cut mine have been confirmed by the studies carried out by St. Petersburg Mining University. The University experts have confirmed that the project will contribute to suppressing endogenous fires, prevent dusting in the pit and increase the stability of its boundaries.
The proposal to include the coal pit into the process chain of the future mining and concentration complex was made following an independent environmental audit of the Tominsk GOK design documentation, which was conducted in 2016 on the directive of Boris Dubrovsky, Governor of Chelyabinsk region.
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