Khoper (Voronezh Region, Central Russia) is a territory with the unique and fertile Black Earth; it’s food–providing major crops and is an important national nature reserve for the Red List species.
Extraction of nickel, being far from waste-free, imposes a great danger for both agriculture and ecology of the region, and is very likely to lead to extinction of a rare Russian Desmond: the nickel mines are to appear in less than 20 km from the Khoper Nature Reserve.
Scientists and experts, as well as WWF, Greenpeace, Oxfam speak about a major environmental threat from the future nickel mining in the region: to the ecology of the Central Russia, the Khoper River, as well as to a number of major rivers of the Azov basin, to local agriculture and health of the population.
Massive on-site protests against the nickel mining happened throughout 2012-2013.
Local protest participants are now persecuted by police and confronted with fabricated criminal charges.
Last month an exploratory drilling was started on the territories; it has already caused the coming out of groundwater, which later also entered agricultural soils.
At this very moment international support and public feedback are of an extreme importance.
WE CALL OUT TO OTHER CITIES TO SUPPORT THIS ACTION – in your own cities and towns. Make the Khoper protest known worldwide!!
IF YOU ARE READY to support us by a solidarity action IN YOUR CITY, no matter in what country you are, please SEND US AN E-MAIL (zakhoper_at_gmail.com) and we will send the details and instructions for the organizers.
Each and every small step and every action are crucially important at the moment!
Located in the center of Russia, in the Black Earth Belt, 439 km south of Moscow, Voronezh Region is a densely populated, traditionally agricultural region, due to its fertile soils (the Black Belt Earths). Introducing the nickel mines (that can’t be waste-free production) in this unique region, carefully preserved for more than eighty years, is an act of bargaining the living nature for the sake of a short-term economic profit.
The Khoper River, the largest left feeder of the fourth biggest Russian river Don, and the adjacent wood areas are the rare territories that have stayed preserved from the by-effects of the technologic development. In 1935 the Khoper Nature Reserve was founded for the purposes of saving the Russian Desman, – small mammal of the mole family, characterized by its long bi-lobed snout. This animal, whose ancestors are as ancient as mammoth – 500 000 years B.C., was almost fully destroyed in the beginning of the XXth century by hunters for its precious fur. The captive breeding of this delicate animal is impossible, and the only chance to preserve it is preserving its habitat. The local Desman population is extremely vulnerable as it counts only about 150 units. Besides, the rare species safeguarded on the territory of the Khoper Nature Resort include the white-tailed eagle, imperial eagle, bold eagle, dappled deer, sterlet, relict plant species – floating watermoss (Salvinia natans), water chestnut (Trapa natans), and others. Some decade ago there was bison reserve as well.
NICKEL MINING and ECOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES
Nickel deposits were discovered in the region during the Soviet period, in the 1970-ies, but were left untouched and the question of mining never rose. Until 2011 when V. Putin granted the permission for the competition for mining on these territories. In summer 2012 the LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant was announced as the winner.
The mining project evokes several major points of concern: 1/ Mines are planned in the proximity of 20 km from the Khoper Nature Reserve; it will cause the destabilization of habitat of rare species. 2/ Waste dumps for the earth material extracted from the mines risk to be made on the precious Black Earth which covers this territory; 3/ Voids formed by extracted ore will be filled with cement; it prevents from avalanches in the mines, but leads to the drastic transformation and degradation of the soil as well as of the multiple subterranean waters of the region; 4/ Metallic substance will have to pass through the primary burning that implies huge amounts of water neutralizing acid-alkaline processes. The leaks from drain water reservoirs can fatally pollute Khoper, as well as go further to the Don River.
The current Russian legislation gives absolutely no mechanism to public control of the activities of private mining corporations. The tragic example of Nornikel Company’s influence over ecology is the city Norilsk (Siberia), the 91st largest populated Russian city. The mining and smelting activity made it the most polluted city in Russia and one of the most polluted on Earth. Life expectancy in Norilsk in 10 years less than all-Russian statistical ratios.