Russia plans to rezone Europe's largest national park to develop gold mine


By Alec Luhn
The Telegraph, London
Sunday, July 21, 2019

MOSCOW -- Russian officials are planning to rezone the largest national park in Europe to allow gold mining in a move activists say could put all nature reserves here under threat.

At more than 1.9 million hectares, Yugyd Va national park in northwestern Russia is even bigger than the reserve around Iceland's Vatnajökull glacier and forms part of the country's oldest Unesco natural heritage site, the "virgin Komi forests."

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It encompasses some of the most extensive untouched boreal forests in the world, the highest peak in the Ural Mountains. and tributaries of the Pechora River, the lifeblood of the indigenous Komi people.

But according to documents seen by The Daily Telegraph, the Komi region is now working with the federal government to remove protections from areas containing the Chudnoye ("Wonderful") deposit, which holds an estimated 80 tonnes of gold long coveted by mining companies.

In a letter to the natural resources minister in October, the head of Komi claimed that rezoning part of the park for mining would create jobs for those left unemployed as the region's coal industry dies out. ...

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