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Environmental Aspects of Developing Uranium Deposits: Round Table in Kurgan State University
"The planned development of the third uranium deposit in the Kurgan Region (Dobrovolny) will give new momentum to the development of the region and, first of all, Zverinogolovsky district, and will provide people with new high-paid jobs. It is necessary to preserve the natural complexes, which are our identifying feature, as much as possible during the performance of activities. Taking into account the huge experience of Dalur, JSC, extracting metals in our natural deposits for several decades and knowing the environmentally safe technologies used by the Company, it may safely be said that all threats to people and the environment are completely absent," that’s how Alexey Kokorin, the Governor of the Kurgan Region, opened the round table meeting dedicated to the "Environmental Aspects of the Development of Uranium Deposits in the Trans-Ural Region" in Kurgan State University (KSU.)
Reports of the representatives of the public authorities of the Kurgan Region, leading researchers of Russian universities and scientific organizations, geologists and, of course, the representatives of the Mining Division of Rosatom State Corporation (ARMZ Uranium Holding) on the elimination of environmental threats in the extraction of uranium were presented during the round table meeting. The discussion was also attended by the deputies of the Regional Duma, heads of the Regional Department of Rosprirodnadzor and the Public Chamber of the Kurgan Region, as well as other specialists.
Welcome address of Alexey Likhachev, Director General of Rosatom State Corporation, was read by Alexander Burutin, Chairman of the Board of Dalur, JSC. In particular, the responsibility for the environmental safety of all the territories of its presence (especially, the Kurgan Region, with reserves currently amounting to more than 20,000 tonnes of metals) was mentioned there as the basis of Rosatom’s policy in environmental protection.
"Any human activity has a negative impact on the environment. But the activities of Dalur, JSC proved that such impact may be minimized. We understand the concern of the public about the problems of environmental protection. At the same time, the experience with the Dalmatovsky and Khokhlovsky uranium deposits in our region has proved the environmental safety of in-situ leaching technology," Eduard Gusev, Deputy Governor of the Kurgan Region, Head of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, said in the report. He also noted that in the Zverinogolovsky district, where the development of the Dobrovolny deposit is already planned, there are such natural reserves, as Lake Gorkoe, Abuginsky Bor and others. "There will be no impact on these natural reserves," Eduard Gusev said.
"Ensuring environmental and radiation safety is especially important for the public. No incidents related to the activities of Dalur, JSC, were recorded since 1979, when the first (Dalmatovsky) deposit in the Kurgan Region was opened. One of the important components is the application of the method of in-situ leaching that is safe for people and the environment. The policy of Rosatom State Corporation is informational openness, we consider the provision of truthful and honest data on all our activities to all interested parties as one of the important tasks," Victor Svyatetsky, First Deputy Director General of ARMZ Uranium Holding, said. He also said that the expenses of Rosatom for the implementation of environmental policy in 2016 amounted to RUB 26 billion, and also informed about the absence of any plan to reduce the budget. "As for tax deductions related directly to the activities of Dalur, JSC, we plan to transfer RUB 4,085 billion to the regional and local budgets for the period of 2018-2030,” Victor Svyatetskiy mentioned.
Speaking about the environmental aspects of the development of uranium deposits, the representatives of the Institute of Geoecology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Seversk Technological Institute, Kurgan State University and other scientific institutions emphasized the in-situ leaching to be the most environmentally friendly and safe way of mining deposits. Indeed, there are significant advantages in comparison of in-situ leaching with open or underground mining. There are no changes in the environmental state of the subsoil, since the excavation of ore mass is not performed. There is no subsidence and disturbance of the earth's surface, falling of out-of-balance ores and waste rocks, as well as tailing dumps. The natural radioactivity of the ore body remains deep beneath the earth.
Mikhail Noskov, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Professor of Seversk Technological Institute, spoke about the geological and hydrogeological issues of uranium mining: "The Dobrovolny deposit, like Dalmatovsky and Khokhlovsky, is completely isolated from the aquifers. At the bottom and sides – with rocks, and above – with hundred meters of impermeable clay. Therefore, both underground waters and the productive solution cannot go beyond the ore-bearing horizon."
As a result of the round table meeting, the Governor of the Kurgan Region addressed the management of ARMZ Uranium Holding with the request to accelerate all preparations for starting the development of the Dobrovolny deposit. "All measures are in accordance with the schedule and no delays are currently expected with the beginning of the commercial development of the deposit," Viktor Svyatetsky said.