Activists handed 107,000 signatures to the Governor of Voronezh Region against nickel extraction
Press Release, 27.01.2017
On 25 January environmental activists of the Russian Black Earth area handed to Alexei Gordeyev Governor of the Voronezh Region, 107,000 signatures against the extraction of nickel in the region. Viktor Hlebostroyev, Deputy Chairman of the Voronezh branch of YABLOKO, participated in the action.
The struggle of local residents against non-ferrous metals development in the Voronezh region has been going on for five years already, since the Government signed the order for a tender for further exploration and development of these deposits in December 2011, which gave rise to loud public protests in the region renown for its agricultural produce.
Since 2011 protesters held hundred of rallies, a number of these rallies gathered together about 85 per cent of the population of some cities of the region. The largest rally took place in Borisoglebsk in spring 2012, when 18,000 people participated in the rally. In February 2013, the first attempts of exploration were marked by clashes of local residents and Cossacks and geologists. After beating environmentalist were beaten by the security of the exploration camp in May 2013, protesters destroyed the equipment at the exploration site.
At present the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company completed the exploration and submitted its findings to the State Commission on Mineral Reserves, after which a decision on the viability of development of the deposits should be taken.
Members of environmental movements of the Black Earth area urge the authorities to abandon these works, as a private company owned by foreign offshore companies and acting in the interests of a small group of people, will cause enormous damage to the agricultural lands and nature reserves, and, consequently, could endanger health of the local population and food safety.
The company has demonstrated low social and environmental responsibility already in the process of exploration of the deposits: drilling waste was disposed with violations (in the ordinary household waste landfill) and groundwater containing radioactive elements got into drinking horizons and infected water used by local residents.
According to the promise given to the residents of the region in 2012, if the majority of the residents oppose development, there would be no development and production of nickel. Thus, the residents of the region collected signatures against the project and handed them to the Govenor asking him to fulfill his promise.
YABLOKO has opposed the extraction of nickel in the Black Earth area from the very beginning. On 22 April, 2015, civil society activists and representatives of YABLOKO brought over 100,000 signatures against nickel extraction in the Black Earth area to the Reception Office of the President of the Russian Federation.