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Interview with Maxim Semyanskikh, General Director of JSC ZDK Lenzoloto, part of Polyus Group

Interview with Maxim Semyanskikh, General Director of JSC ZDK Lenzoloto, part of Polyus Group

JSC ZDK Lenzoloto’s history is strongly bound to the local community. In 1921, Russian gold mining was nationalized and Lenzoloto was established as a state organization. In 1926, the Irkutsk region was divided into different districts, with Bodaibo being one of them.

Lenzoloto continues developing gold deposits across the Bodaibo region through dredging and sluicing activities and, in the last five years, it has produced 26 tons of gold. It is a rare company, developed in harsh Russian weather conditions, which has experienced difficult times and is still successfully operating today. Lenzoloto is able to meet its production targets while also engaging in social projects across the region.

Maxim Semyanskikh, General Director of JSC ZDK Lenzoloto, elaborated on the Company’s plans, social policy and the Bodaibo region’s development.

With Lenzoloto set to celebrate its 100th anniversary this year, what has helped the Company to survive through difficult periods in its history?

During the pandemic, our approach allowed us to fulfil our production target of almost 4.5 tons of gold. Our people performed incredibly well during this period. During the industrial season, our production sites operate around the clock. Mining for precious metal must continue no-matter the weather. With this in mind, we remember that people are our main asset, so we do our best to create comfortable conditions for them to show our gratitude.

How many employees do you have, and how do you support your staff?

We currently have around three thousand employees at Lenzoloto. They come from many different regions of Russia, as well as neighboring countries.

One initiative to support our staff has been establishing a mentoring program, which allows experienced workers to share what they have learnt with younger employees. We have also implemented corporate programs that provide social benefits, including compensation for travel expenses. Lenzoloto offers opportunities for career and professional development and, being part of the Polyus Group, we hold training sessions at the Polyus’ corporate university.

In addition, we are always aiming to improve our employees’ accommodation: new canteens, sports and other social facilities are being built at our operations.

What changes to the Company’s operations did you have to make during the pandemic?

We strictly followed all measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Company was quick to adapt to the new requirements and working conditions. Firstly, we developed internal policies which allowed us to continue operating. This included purchasing personal protective equipment, such as surgical masks and disposable gloves, hand sanitizers and disinfectants, which reduced the chances of our employees getting sick.

The Company regularly tests its employees for COVID-19, and we built an observation camp that can house 150 people. Employees arriving at Bodaibo quarantine and are then tested for the infection and the antibodies. We are also successfully rolling out our vaccination campaign.

In many remote areas, there is a lack of medical equipment due to insufficient funding for buying, maintaining and repairing these. Is this the case in Bodaibo?

The region’s hospital is one of its most important facilities. As part of the social partnership agreement, we have supported it for many years. During the pandemic, personal protective equipment and different medicines were purchased for the hospital.

Last year, Polyus Verninskoye donated a CT scanner to the hospital as it was needed for patients infected with coronavirus. Prior to this, the nearest CT scanner was in Irkutsk, where patients had to be transported by plane.

Lenzoloto provided funding to prepare the room where the CT scanner would be installed. The hospital required a major overhaul to repair the diagnostic and treatment units. It also helped the department where patients with infectious diseases were treated.

In addition to the hospital, the Company financed the repair of heating systems at the Bodaibo Mining Technical College, purchased sports and classroom equipment, including textbooks and other training materials.

Lenzoloto provided financial support to repair one of the buildings at Zvezdochka, a children’s camp, and refurbish the correctional school in Bodaibo. The Company also co-financed repairs of the regional Culture and Leisure center.

The Company regularly helps residents of Bodaibo and the surrounding area that are in need. Among other initiatives, we provide support to the Mamakan hockey team and repaired the nursery school building in Perevoz.

Bodaibo airport, the main transportation hub in northern Russia, is not in the best condition. Do you have any plans to redevelop this?

Yes, this is an issue that we are looking to address. The plan is to build a new runway and airport.

We will fund the design process, which will be reviewed by the Glavgosexpertiza, the State’s Expert Evaluation Department. Once reconstructed, the Bodaibo airport will be capable of operating with all types of aircrafts.