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Polyus Verninskoye's environmental agenda

Polyus Verninskoye's environmental agenda

The transition to clean electricity from Viluskie HPPs facilitates the reduction of Polyus Verninskoye’s carbon footprint. Waste is efficiently recycled based on global best practices to mitigate environmental impact and charity payments are made to conserve the traditional lifestyle of the taiga’s local communities.

No carbon footprint

Any production, including gold mining, has an environmental impact. Polyus Verninskoye seeks to minimize this impact. As well as carrying out its legal environmental obligations, the company makes sure that its annual contribution to environmental protection is as meaningful as possible.

“As the leading gold miner in the Irkutsk region, Polyus Verninskoye is committed to being an example of environmental awareness,” according to Igor Tsukurov, Managing Director at Polyus Verninskoye. “This is why we introduced an environmental management system that takes into account and mitigates the environmental impact of our operations at every stage.”

Gold production switched to renewable energy sources here a long time ago. In the mid-2010s, the company constructed the Peledui–Mamakan power line, paving the way to having power generated by the Viluskie HPPs in Yakutia. The Verninskoye mine power supply has stabilized, with no more electricity shortages or blackouts. We put an end to the power deficit that had constrained the growth of the Bodaibo district for a long time. On the other hand, the company no longer needs to use diesel-generated power, which resulted in a drop in greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, the Verninskoye mine's modular boiler plant shifted to used technical oils generated from production. They are used to heat the premises of service facilities, and the excess is given to a licensed contractor for disposal. In the long term, the company will shift all its facilities to clean power and low-carbon fuel.

Waste disposal

Polyus Verninskoye reported that controlling tailings is a key focus. To ensure there is no environmental impact from the TSF, a geomembrane filtration protection is lined across the entire basin and the upstream slope.

The enterprise has a clear TSF safety monitoring system, which includes both internal and external operational and environmental control. According to Polyus Verninskoye, the company has an International Cyanide Management Code certificate of compliance. This means a third-party audit is performed every three years.

Process water is sourced from the Nygri river. To reduce water intake, Polyus Verninskoye promotes a water reclaim system. A water collection pond for stormwater was constructed for backup. Collected water is also used for processing.

The enterprise has a lot of experience in reducing disposed waste. For example, plastic containers for reagents are shredded with a special rotor shredder. The resulting recyclables (HDPE) are resistant to high temperatures, UV, acid, alkali and solvents, and are easily processable. HDPE is used to produce gasoline tanks, children’s toys, medical equipment, school supplies and waste bins. Shredded plastic is sold to recycling companies.

Maintaining the natural balance

Along with environmental impact mitigation, Polyus Verninskoye recovers natural resources to compensate for damage. Since 2011, we have raised and released baby fish into water bodies.

The gold miner is an environmental partner to the Vitim Nature Reserve. Since 2018, it has supported a study on the diversity of flora and fauna populations and species in the area near Verninskoye mine. This helps scientists collect information on flora, fauna, birds and insects in the nature reserve. This data will be used for monitoring changes in ecosystems and for ensuring efficient protection.

“We are lucky to live and work in such a marvelous place. The Verninskoye deposit is in the Bodaibo district near the Vitim Nature Reserve. For several years, together with the nature reserve’s employees, we have maintained the biodiversity of our land. And, of course, we do our best to protect our rich forests against fire and pay special attention to reforestation. Over the past two years, we planted over 1.5 mln coniferous saplings,” said Igor Tsukurov.

Last year a project was launched to study the wild ungulate population in the Vitim Nature Reserve. The company’s funds helped to set up five feeding facilities to study, preserve and increase the number of these animals in the taiga. According to the nature reserve’s employees, the ungulate population depends on unfavorable environmental factors: the number of cold days, ice crust and deep snow. That is why sodium-rich soil areas and feeding facilities are important for supporting animals through hard winters. The company invested in trail cameras that make it possible to conduct research of high importance for Russian science.