Архив рубрики: News

Kherlen River discussed at the Second meeting of the Amur-Okhotsk Consortium

 

The 2nd International Meeting of Amur-Okhotsk Consortium was held on November 5 and 6, 2011, in Sapporo, Japan, as a program in Hokkaido University Sustainable Weeks 2011. The Consortium was formed as a result of very innovative Amur-Okhotsk Project that explored contribution of Amur River outflow to sustaining fisheries of the Sea of Okhotsk.

This is the 2nd international meeting of this consortium. The objective of this meeting was to discuss how to preserve the shared heritage of cross-border environment, and how to pass it on to the next generation by academic perspectives with the participation of general public and students. The first time Mongolian hydrologists came to this event and reported on peculiar natural features of Kherlen River and associated socio-economic and environmental problems.(SEE ABSTRACTS)

Presenting Kherlen River issues in Japan is very  important given that controversial Kherlen -Gobi  Water Transfer Project was designed with participation of Japanese CTI Engineering International Co and further Japanese involvement in the project is quite likely.

Kherlen River at the site of planned project ( RwB 2011 expedition photo)

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The Amur-Okhotsk Consortium is a multilateral researchers’ network to promote the sharing of information on environments, to make efforts toward a cooperative environmental monitoring, and to facilitate the robust discussions that transcends borders toward an environmental conservation and sustainable use of the resources of the Amur River Basin and the Sea of Okhotsk. It is a platform to discuss issues grounded on scientific knowledge for the purpose of sharing a common recognition through the exchange of opinion and discussions on the natural environment of the Sea of Okhotsk and the Amur River Basin. This network is a non-governmental network and has not been founded on or by any particular country or organization. This is a personal network comprised of voluntarily participating researchers who share a common awareness and for the possibility of a free discussion by researchers on the future of the ecosystem of the Amur-Okhotsk. The activities of Amur-Okhotsk Consortium will be financially supported for 3 years starting from 2011 by 3 year grant by Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Environment Fund. In this year, the first year of this funding, the 2nd International Meeting of Amur-Okhotsk Consortium is held. In 2012, the second year of the grant, an environmental monitoring program in the Amur River with researchers from Russia, China, Mongolia, and Japan is planned. And in 2013, the final year of the grant, the 3rd International Meeting of Amur-Okhotsk Consortium will be held in Sapporo, again. This will be the final stage run by Japanese secretariat, and will be successfully turned over to the next secretariat.

Sources:  Amur-Okhotsk Consortium web-site, RwB own info.

«Rivers without Boundaries» Registered !

sertifikat.jpgGood News!Thanks to restless efforts of Ganbold — RwB Coordinator in Mongolia, Rivers without Boundaries  International Coalition  became a registered NGO in Mongolia.

Such registration ( that would be almost impossible in China and  painfully difficult in Russia) allows the Coalition greater flexibility and provides additional opportunities in advocacy and fund-raising.   However this move by no means  changes the general RwB policy to work as a network of NGOs, activists and experts and not just as an independent NGO. Thus in Mongolia RwB presently closely cooperates with Onon-Ulz River Movement, United Movement of Mongolian Rivers and Lakes, «Let’s Save the Tuul River!» National Movement, Mongolian Nature Protection Civil Movements Coalition, Khentii, Onon Protection Movement, etc. Current focus in Mongolia — implementation of the «Law with long Name» and controlling placer gold mining on transboundary rivers of  Eastern Mongolia.  But  also in future  RwB  in Mongolia plans  to assess new hydropower and water diversion schemes,  engage in basin-wide management planning in transboundary river basins ,  look into water-related impacts of large investment projects,  re-examine and support improvement of the  National Water Program.

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Activists rally to stop destruction of Onon River headwaters

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Participants of Mongolian-Russain talks on transboundary waters held in Ulaan Baatar on October 27  were addressed by environmental NGO activists urging both countries to talk less and do more to stop destructive mining activities on transboundary rivers: Onon, Selenga, Uldz, etc.» Rivers in the sacred land of Chinggis Khaan should be clean!» read one of the slogans.

In particular activists demand that Russian side stops gold mining enterprise»Baldzha» that has already destroyed riverine habitats on a dozen transboundary tributaries of Onon River Basin. For last two years  placer gold  mining operations of  «Baldzha» caused continuous pollution of transboundary  Ashinga river , but instead of  shutting down this enterprise Russian authorities granted to  «Baldzha» a permit to  destroy larger and more ecologically  important  transboundary Kirkun River .

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Ganbold, RwB Coordinator in Mongolia, proposed that »  Mining on Kirkun River  should be stopped as a first step of freeing Russian portion of Onon Basin from destructive activities incompatible with sustainable development in this motherland of Chinggis Khaan. In Mongolia such activities should be stopped according to the 2009 Law on “Prohibiting mining operations at headwaters of rivers, protected zones of water reservoirs and forested areas”» and we urge the Mongolian government to implement it as soon as possible».

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Rivers without Boundaries

Ulaan Baatar

New victim of herders vs miners conflict

An ethnic Mongolian herder has been killed in China in circumstances similar to an incident in May which led to protests in the region, reports say.A human rights group said the herder had been trying to protect grazing land from Chinese oil trucks in Inner Mongolia when he was knocked down.

Chinese authorities said he had tried to overtake a truck on a motorcycle.

Thousands of ethnic Mongolians staged angry protests in May after a similar incident.

A herder named Mergen was killed on 10 May as he tried to stop a coal truck driving over pasture land.

His death led to a series of demonstrations in towns and cities across Inner Mongolia which the security forces acted quickly to put down. The truck driver who hit him was executed in August.

Following  protests, authorities in Inner Mongolia announced plans to review local coal mining activities.

The latest incident occurred on Thursday in Uushin Banner district, near the city of Ordos, the US-based Southern Mongolian Human Rights Information Centre reports.

The herder, named Zorigt, was one of several who had been trying to protect their land «from unregulated Chinese oil and gas transport trucks that drive roughshod through their grazing lands and kill livestock», the group said.

The local government said in a statement on its website that he had been killed while trying to overtake the truck on a motorcycle.

The driver had been taken into custody, it added.

The region has traditionally been home to nomadic Mongolian herders, but has seen an influx of companies keen to exploit the region’s resources.

Source BBC

By Damming Siberian Rivers Deripaska Intends to Integrate into Asian World

The South East Asia countries have got fully elaborated stages of development. In Deripaska’s opinion, Russia should enter this Asian world and integrate into it. The head of the Basic Element Company speaking at Baikal International Economic Forum (BIEF) has also mentioned that Asian countries and China primarily have got certain skewness and deviations dew to their high speed of development.

By all appearances, Deripaska is going to save China from the problems of its uneven development. For this purpose he offers to organize new exploitation of the Siberian resources.

In Deripaska’s opinion, huge natural resources and the absence of infrastructure are mutually exclusive. That’s why it’s time to make a decision now with what Russia should come to the world market, i.e. to reorganize the Siberian infrastructure radically.

During the BIEF plenary session the businessman has demonstrated the map of potential exploitation of hydro-energetic resources of Siberia. In his opinion, it is the hydroenergetics which can give a new impetus to the economy of Siberia and change substantially the energetic structure of the world, especially in the «after Fukushima» existence conditions.

Oleg Deripaska has sounded the plans of the construction of several new hydro-electric stations in Siberia. The produced energy will be aimed for the Asian market.

Contrary to popular belief that Siberia is a Russian depositary, the SFD share in the country’s GDP is only 10%. According to the growth rates the SFD has been substantially falling behind the other regions since 1997.

Deripaska has casted doubt on the possibility of the further development of Siberia in the existing economic conditions. In his opinion, Moscow is Europe oriented, as a result of it moving in the Asian direction is impossible. Deripaska has demanded in the ultimative form from Moscow to change the economic paradigm and integrate into the Asian world.

According to Deripaska, the existing infrastructure of Siberia is not enough for the harmonious development of his business. He has appealed to the large natural monopolies, the RR in particular, for radical investments, and the customs service — for the drastic increase of the through-flow rate of the Siberian and Far Eastern border check points. Without it the access to foreign markets of products produced and mined in Siberia will be impossible.

In Oleg Deripaska’s opinion, it is impossible to make friends with China, Korea and Japan from Moscow. It should be done from Siberia.

The speech of the odious oligarch has shocked the representatives of the authoritative bodies. Out of all the participants only the governor of the Irkutsk region Dmitry Mezentsev has managed to comment on this speech clearly. According to Mezentsev, the proposals of Deripaska are so substantial that they require «several BIEFs».

Source: babr.ru

EuroSibEnergo IPO postponed till late 2012?

En+ to take EuroSibEnergo public in mid-late 2012

EuroSibEnergo, the electricity and coal division of billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s En+ Group, may return to its plans for an IPO, which failed to materialize in 2010-2011, next year.

EuroSibEnergo has been consolidating Deripaska’s energy and engineering assets since 2009, and holds controlling stakes in Irkutskenergo (RTS: IRGZ), including Vostsibugol; Krasnoyarsk Hydropower Plant (RTS: KRSG); Avtozavodsk Combined Heat-and-power Plant; distribution companies Volgaenergosbyt and MAREM+; and engineering firm EuroSibEnergo Engineering. The company controls power plants with combined installed capacity of 19.5 GW, including 15 GW at major hydro plants, as well as coal deposits with reserves of about 1.3 billion tonnes.

The company had initially planned to list in Hong Kong in December 2010, but postponed the IPO to March-April 2011 due to the need to gain approval from Chinese regulators for the participation of potential anchor investor Yangtze Power. In early 2011, it became clear that the company had put off the IPO until fall as it sought investors, and then the timetable was moved back again due to a deal with RusHydro (RTS: HYDR) to swap 40% of Irkutskenergo, 25% of Krasnoyarsk Hydropower Plant and the dams of the Yenisei cascade for a stake in EuroSibEnergo.

«The potential deal with RusHydro is a possibility to consolidate operating assets on the books of EuroSibEnergo and it would be far better for both majority and minority shareholders if EuroSibEnergo’s IPO will be carried out when the company will fully (or almost fully) own these assets. The company will be worth far more,» En+ head Artyom Volynets said in an interview with Kommersant.

«We are holding negotiations [with RusHydro — ed.] and I hope that we will be able to take the new company public, with RusHydro as the owner of more than a blocking stake, in the middle or second half of 2012,» Volynets said.

It was reported earlier that EuroSibEnergo planned to sell 25% of its shares in the IPO and raise $1 billion-$1.5 billion. The global coordinators of the IPO were Bank of China International, Deutsche Bank and VTB Capital, and the bookrunners were Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, RBS, Renaissance Capital and Sberbank (RTS: SBER).

Source: Interfax

Direct Investment Fund Can Be Established By Russia and China

The Ministry of Regional Development of the Russian Federation is responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Russia and China Cross Border Cooperation Programme that was approved by the Heads of the States in October, 2009. In particular, it is support for investment projects that are included in the list of key projects of the Programme.

Together with the subjects of the Russian Federation, the Ministry carried out activity on the structuring and selection of priority investment projects, and working out recommendations on financing and implementation of the investment projects. The Ministry of Regional Development recruits the community of experts, including members of the Advisory Council on the regional investment policy at the Ministry of Regional Development of Russia.

The proposals on elaboration of mechanisms to support and finance priority projects of the Programme were discussed at the meeting of the Heads of establishments that are responsible for implementation of Cross Border Cooperation Programme (Ministry of Regional Development of Russia and State Committee of China National Development and Reform) in June 2009. The agreement was reached to discuss this topic at the next conference on cross-border co-operation with experts of the banking sector.

according to Russian sources  the Chinese side proposed to establish a joint investment fund to promote cooperation between regions of the Far East, Eastern Siberia of the Russian Federation and the North-East China in order to attract additional investments in projects that are included in the list of the key projects of the Programme of Cross Border Cooperation.

The issue of establishing a joint fund of direct investments in Russia and China was again discussed at the Russian-Chinese Conference on Cross-border and Interregional cooperation, which will be held September 12, within the framework of the VII of the Baikal Economic Forum.At the meeting, Chinese delegates discussed with their Russian counterparts mechanisms for supporting and financing investment projects in border areas. Representatives from China’s privately-owned enterprises expressed their strong desires and worries about making investments in Russia, as they are not familiar with the investment environment and the relevant policy there.In response to the question, Basargin said Russia should set up a mechanism to provide specialized services to all reliable Chinese investors.

«Such an institution, once launched, would act as an intermediary and an information exchange channel. It will for sure enhance investor confidence and promote the working efficiency of both sides,» said the official.

Russia and China have achieved progress in some joint projects under the Outline of Regional Cooperation between Northeast China and the Russian Far East Area and Eastern Siberia, which was signed by leaders of the two countries in 2009. But obstacles remain in the implementation of some major projects, Basargin noted.

Therefore, both countries are now seeking ways to promote mutual trust and improve coordination mechanisms, as China plans to set up a joint fund with Russia for inter-regional mutual investment, while Russia has launched its Direct Investment Fund with the aim to attract more Chinese capital, said the minister.

He believed the specialized institution would create more favorable conditions for mutual investment. However, discussions at the forum, according to the minister Basargin, highlighted sharp difference in priorities between Russian side, favoring cooperation in technology and development of value-added products, and Chinese side focusing on extraction and export of resources from Russia.

Contrary to the point of view of the minister famous Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska and his firm En+ favors large-scale export of resources to China  and called on the Russian government to provide tax-brakes,  investment guarantees, and establish a fund to support large-scale resource-extraction projects. At the forum Deripaska  aggressively promoted his partnership with Chinese Yangtze Power to build hydropower plants and transmission lines for electricity exports from Siberia to China. Partners already started feasibility study for two dams on Shilka and Angara rivers.

Rivers without boundaries

Sources: BEF web-site, China Daily,  own info.

New Water Monitoring Station Near Hailaer-Dalai Diversion Canal

According to the China Ministry of Environmental Protection two new automatic stations for water quality monitoring have been constructed and have passed six-months probation period.  Both stations are important for controlling water quality at transboundary Argun River. One station is on Genhe River at Datieqiao, the other one is on Hailaer river at Chuogang town — 5 kilometers upstream from water intake structures for Hailaer-Dalai Water Transfer Canal.  This is a critically important location to monitor hydrological regime and water quality for waters going to Russian border and now also diverted to Dalai Lake.  Chuogang Station data has been reflected in national  reports since June 2011 and for 10 weeks in a row shows low water quality of class IV and V. This is no surprise given high number of  new and old industrial and agriculture production units in the  Hailaer River basin upstream.

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Russian delegation  at  Hailaer-Dalai canal water intake, June 2011.

On a Monument to the Marmot

The Pigeon is dead but the Marmot is alive!!!

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An unusual but timely monument was inaugurated by authorities in uranium-mining town of Krasnokamensk, which lands border best wetlands of upper Argun River. It is dedicated to all marmots exterminated by poisoning in 1939-1956 under largely false suspicion that they disseminate infectious plague. Thousands of lifeless mounds above empty burrows were left throughout Dauria Steppe reminding that this grassland was once full of these joyful rodents known as Marmota sibirica or Tarbag in Mongolian.

The monument features two marmots, one of which is a famous archer- Tarbag Mergen converted into marmot for boasting according to Mongolian legend, and another one is marmot-miner — initial symbol of the Krasnokamensk.

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Fortunately, unlike Passenger Pigeon mourned by Oldo Leopold in his famous essay, the Siberian Marmot is still alive despite being prosecuted for spreading infection, having delicious meat and carrying quite popular pelts. However nowadays this beast is much less abundant throughout its former range and the author of the monument Alexander Pilnikov is urging Krasnokamensk authorities to create captive breeding facility for marmots to facilitate reestablishment their populations in Dauria.

Rephrasing the famous piece by Leopold we say: «We have erected a monument to symbolize our hope for survival of this species. «

Trans-Sibirskaya hydropower plant -new deadly threat to Daurian rivers

 Alarming news came from eurosib.ru — official web-site of EuroSibEnergo(ESE)- energy offshoot of Deripaska’s Basel Holding.

«EuroSibEnergo, the largest independent power producer in Russia, and China Yangtze Power Co. («CYPC»), the largest Chinese listed hydroelectricity producer, signed a Framework Agreement that provides for joint investment of a list of power plant construction projects in Eastern Siberia. The Agreement was inked by Andrey Likhachev, the Chairman of EuroSibEnergo, and Yong Bai, Chief Financial Officer of CYPC during the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The top priority list includes the following projects:

1.       Lenskaya CHP. Installed capacity — up to 1,200 MW; location — Ust-Kut, Irkutsk region;

2.       Nizhne-Angarskaya HPP (Angara river). Installed capacity — 600 — 1,500 MW; location — Krasnoyarsk Region

3.       Trans-Sibirskaya HPP (Shilka River). Installed capacity — 400 — 900 MW; location — ca. 250 km from Mogocha, Trans-Baikal Territory. Trans-Sibirskaya HPP will provide an opportunity to synchronize the power systems of Siberia and the Russian Far East; it could also meet power demand of the Chinea polymetal deposit development project (implemented by En+ Group) and other mineral resources recovery projects in the Trans-Baikal Territory.

Both companies are currently performing the preliminary work of the feasibility study and financing of the joint investment projects and plan to start the actual work as soon as possible.  The companies plan is to involve the most prominent Russian and international environmental organizations to help develop a feasibility study of each project in order to ensure they meet the highest environmental standards.

Andrey Likhachev, Chairman of the EuroSibEnergo, commented: «The selected projects are in line with EuroSibEnergo’s strategy that focuses on renewable, carbon-free and environmentally-friendly energy. The proposed new plants will be the foundation for the development of the new industries and infrastructure in Eastern Siberia, driving the region’s economy growth. The pilot projects within our strategic partnership with China Yangtze Power will set new technological and environmental standards for the industry.»

RwB  comment:

EuroSibEnergo(ESE) has actually very poor record meeting environment and social standards. RwB thoroughly outlined that in a special address to investors and HKExchange in early 2011.
For instance, water level management of Lake Baikal by ESE’s Hydro  is adversely influencing this World Heritage Site. Moreover ESE is lobbying for permission to use more Baikal water for electricity generation which means greater impact. Water quality in existing 2 ESE reservoirs on Angara River is a subject of long-term concerns and virtually nothing is done by ESE to improve it. Construction of Boguchanskaya HPP on Angara done presently by Deripaska’s Rusal and Rushydro is simply illegal, since it has no valid EIA and numerous violations of environmental law and rights of local people.

As for two newly proposed hydropower stations they present high degree of thereat to important ecosystems:

The fifth station on Angara River will further add pressure both on Angara and increase demand to regulate Lake Baikal in the interest of hydropower. Angara will fully cease to exist as river ecosystem replaced by uninterrupted chain of reservoirs.

Shilka-location map

Shilka is a primary source of Amur River flowing from Mongolia into Russia. An assessment of a similar hydropower project in the same stretch of Shilka River done by Chita research institute of Academy of Science in 1990 came to conclusion that it is environmentally and socially unacceptable due  to high negative impact on fish, water quality,  regional biodiversity and living environment of local people. This hydro presently is not in the HPP construction plan approved by the State recently and is not a part of any regional development strategy.

Preliminary assessment done by Amur WWF and RwB shows that new dam would likely have negative impacts on IUCN-listed Kaluga sturgeon, many salmonid fish, as well as of fisheries tourism in upstream Mongolia, likely, dependent on Shilka and Upper Amur as source of fish stock replenishment.

450 kilometer long reservoir will occupy roughly a half of Shilka River proper. It will block important migration corridor between Amur river and northern Dauria, exterminate floodplain communities unique for Dauria, drown many important historic sites.

Major negative aspect of this dam — its location in the lower reaches of Shilka, which would block\isolate 200000 square kilometres or 10% of Amur River basin. When compared with other existing and proposed hydropower projects in Amur Basin  Shilka HPP always shows greater potential environmental and social impact both in absolute figures and per unit production that the majority of other dams. Only Sino Russian hydropower plants proposed on the main stem of Amur river proper looks more harmful than this dam.

 Therefore «new technological and environmental standards set for the industry» by ESE and Yangtze Power may happen to be very low, even lower than those exposed by existing obsolete HPP in Amur River Basin.

RwB