A 5,000-strong rally against the projected launch of nickel mining ventures was held in Russia’s southern Voronezh Region on Sunday, local police said.
Protesters gathered in the region’s second largest city – Borisoglebsk. According to organizers, the event gathered about 10,000 people. The rally was authorized by the city authorities.
Several rich nickel-copper sulfide deposits have been uncovered in Voronezh Region between 1970 and 1980. Russia’s largest nickel maker Norilsk Nickel and Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company are the main contenders vying to develop these deposits.
A spokesman for Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company has said that any mining ventures could be opened in the region only following six years of geological exploration work.
Protesters believe nickel mining would spoil the region’s highly productive soil – chernozyom and would have negative environmental impact. Nickel mining could also result in the extinction of Russian Desman – an animal listed in the Red Data Book of Endangered Animal Species. This small semi-aquatic mammal inhabits several regions of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, including Khoper Reserve in Voronezh Region.
Konstantin Rubakhin, head of a local nature preservation movement, said he and his supporters will strive to initiate hearings into the problem in Russia’s parliament.