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RIA Novosti: Russian regulators to discuss violations with Peter Hambro Mining

14:07 | 13/ 12/ 2006 

MOSCOW, December 13 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s environmental watchdog will hold a meeting with managers of London-based Peter Hambro Mining, the second-largest gold producer operating in Russia, the Natural Resources Ministry said Wednesday.

Last month, the Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources asked the ministry to terminate five license agreements held by Peter Hambro Mining, over its failure to comply with licensing terms for prospecting work, as well as terms set out in project documents.

“The sides will discuss compliance with environmental laws and licensing agreements with Peter Hambro Mining subsidiaries,” the ministry said.

The UK company, whose operations are focused in Siberia, holds over 50 prospecting and mining licenses. The environment agency said an inspection on five of these had revealed violations of licensing terms, such as failure to meet the schedule for submitting project documentation, and violations of environmental laws, in particular the illegal use of water resources.

Russia’s natural resources minister sacked Monday the top environmental official in a Siberian region for its poor oversight of the British gold mining company’s operations.

“It is astonishing that inspectors of the service’s department for the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area [northwest Siberia] fined the company 10,000 rubles [$375], even though they had grounds to revoke the licenses,” said Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of the FSONR, adding that he would look into inspectors’ activity.

Peter Hambro Mining, which produced 249,000 troy ounces of gold in 2005, is to be subjected to further inspections in the near future. The company’s value is estimated at about $2 billion.

The move is the latest in a series of crackdowns by Russian authorities on Western companies involved in hydrocarbon and mining projects in Russia.

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