The restoration of disturbed lands and efforts to maintain biodiversity are some of the areas covered by the UC RUSAL environmental strategy.
Since 2008 the Company has had a policy in place entitled Decommissioning and Environmental Restoration: Requirements for Organising Work and Assessing Liabilities, which establishes:
In accordance with the UC RUSAL Accounting Policy, the expected decommissioning and environmental restoration costs are shown in the Company’s international financial statements as provisions.
The Company restores disturbed lands in the following ways:
· Restoration of soil topography and fertility after the completion of mining work (exhaustion of quarries and mines);
· Reclamation of landfill sites for production and consumption waste;
· Restoration of disturbed and polluted lands.
In 2015 the number of restored lands was almost equal to the number of lands under development. The reclamation coefficient in the reporting period equalled 0.96. The total amount of disturbed lands at the Company’s enterprises in 2015 was 7,441 ha, which is slightly higher than the previous year’s level. 3,243.7 ha of these lands were disturbed as a result of mining operations. 51% of total disturbed lands are located on the territory intended for safe disposal of industrial waste (mud disposal sites and landfill sites for industrial waste), whilst 44% is located on the territory of quarries and dumping sites.
Reclamation area of disturbed lands decreased by 89.6 ha vs. 2014 and the development of new quarries decreased similarly by 36.6 ha.
In 2015 UC RUSAL reduced its decommissioning and restoration obligations by 3 % vs. the previous reporting period, which equalled USD 365 million. In 2015 total obligations relating to restoration covered 972.8 ha, including 482.7 ha – debt of Alpart company in Jamaica (vs. 511.6 ha in 2014), which in accordance with the laws is obliged to cultivate the previously disturbed lands on an annual basis. In 2015 36.62 ha were restored (vs. 80.1 in 2014).
As part of UC RUSAL’s partnership with UNEPCOM, a land restoration technique using soil modifiers was proposed. The use of the properties of the components applied to produce the modifiers makes it possible to remedy soil intoxication, neutralise heavy metal salts, and double or triple plant germination.
The pilot site at UAZ for recycling red mud was expanded and improved (for more details, see section "Research and Technological Development").
Within the scope of implementation of the long-term plan related to mud lakes, the Aughinish Alumina Refinery in Ireland (Aughinish Alumina) continues its works on the adaptation of water treatment technology on wetland complexes, where water is neutralized (purified) by means of soil, plants, microorganisms and precipitation up to the required quality. This technology is also used in industry, agriculture and in the cleaning of mine waters.
Resolving the pollution issue in the territory adjacent to the Achinsk Alumina Refinery (AGK) sludge disposal site
Recognising the magnitude of AGK’s impact on the environment, UC RUSAL makes every effort to improve the environmental situation in and around the refinery.
Because the refinery began working nearly 45 years ago, many of the technical solutions in use when it was built do not meet modern environmental safety requirements. Despite significant funds invested by AGK in the implementation of current environmental protection measures, the problem of environmental pollution remains. This is due to the constant longstanding impact of drainage and seepage waters which, together with soil compaction, have led to a deterioration in the hydrogeological situation, flooding, and pollution of the soil and ground water. A large number of oxbow cut-offs and lakes located in the marshy bottomland of the Chulym River (the floodplain terrace of which contains a sludge disposal site) are potentially in danger of pollution.
Within the context of the approved Project for Restoration Works (PRW) the following measures were implemented:
• a set of works to reconstruct the sludge ponds, to ensure their maximum utility and to prevent the widening of the land area for sludge storage;
• works to stabilise the collection and return of drainage waters for use in the production and construction of a system to intercept seepage waters and to return them to the refinery’s closed-loop water-supply system;
• localisation of the lands exposed to adverse environmental impacts;
• reimbursement of damage to areas adjacent to a sludge disposal site;
• gradual drainage of land plots, their decontamination using chemical reagents, the application of top soil and the restoration of vegetation through planting grass and shrubs as part of the biological reclamation of polluted lands.
The PRW is planned to complete before 2020. The total amount of these measures is RUB 5.5 billion. The major part of costs – about RUB 4 billion – is already placed into investment budgets of RUSAL for future years.
Apart from the PRW realization in 2015, planned activities were fulfilled for the reconstruction of gas treatment and aspiration systems, construction of closed water systems, as well as construction and reconstruction of the sludge field.
UC RUSAL enterprises are located in various regions and countries, and the Company’s main production facilities are located in Siberia, an ecoregion that has unique flora and fauna.
The lands on which UC RUSAL enterprises are located are not on or adjacent to specially protected natural areas (SPNA). G4-ЕN11
Adhering to sustainable development principles and the provisions of the Environmental Policy, the Company works actively to maintain biodiversity in various ways:
· Participating in establishing and opening visitor centres and ecological trails in SPNA which assist in developing the infrastructures of these territories;
· The Yenisei Day – a joint project with the Russian Geographical Society to remove refuse from the banks of the Yenisei River and to establish special recreational areas;
· The joint project with the Russian Geographical Society to study and protect the snow leopard, aimed at improving the effectiveness of conservation measures in the Altai-Sayansk ecoregion.
The ecosystem of the Altai-Sayansk Mountains, located at the boundary of steppe and taiga regions, is listed on the Global 200, which comprises those regions of the world most in need of preservation. Together with the Conservation Country National Foundation which performs public work to support specially protected natural regions of Russia and also the Centre for Environmental Projects, the conservation areas and national parks of the Altai-Sayansk Ecoregion, and other environmental protection organisations, UC RUSAL implements the aims of Environmental Monitoring in the Impact Zone of UC RUSAL Enterprises, including monitoring of changes in the populations of common, rare and endangered species of flora and fauna in these zones. G4-ЕN13
With the financial support of OJSC RUSAL Krasnoyarsk, the nature reserve park "Stolby" together with the Centre of Forest Protection of Krasnoyarsk territory, RUSAL has carried out within the last three years pest monitoring of fir plantations damaged by the Ussuriisk bark beetle. G4-ЕN13
In the reporting period the employees of VgAZ, KrAZ, KAZ, AGK, BrAZ, IrkAZ, NAZ, UAZ participated actively in social and environmental projects such as cleaning the territories and water protection zones of water bodies in cooperation with the All-Russian Environmental Social Movement "Green Russia", aimed at improving the ecological state of cities and regions.
Volunteers from youth organizations of UC RUSAL enterprises are regularly involved in city promotional events and environmental programs to ‘green’ the urban environment, cleaning water protection zones on the initiative of the administrations of cities and local governmental environmental authorities.
The Company is engaged in activities to promote environmental education, awareness and the establishment of an ecological culture among younger generations in cooperation with universities and educational institutions.
The ecosystem where Europe's largest alumina refinery, Aughinish Alumina, is located has been recognized as being one of the most important to preserve in Ireland. According to the report on a nationwide survey of semi-natural meadows made by the National Parks and Reserves Department of the Republic of Ireland, the Oginish Peninsula, near which one of the alumina refineries of UC RUSAL is located, ranks highest according to the degree of preservation necessity of semi-natural meadows. These ecosystems constitute habitats for many rare and endangered species of plants and invertebrates, birds and mammals. Despite the fact that Aughinish Alumina is [not?] the largest of Europe Alumina refineries, the peninsular territory of 400 ha contains a wide variety of areas of rare plants, including two which are particularly rare in Europe, as well as the great burnet and other plants that are critically endangered.
For 15 years specialists at the Institute of Biology of Komi have monitored the condition of soil and air at the Middle Timan bauxite mine, as well as fish population levels in the river Vym near the field development area. These studies show that the production activity of the enterprise does not affect the life of aquatic creatures. At the same time scientists have recorded a reduction in the number of fish from different species. Damage to biological resources is caused by poachers who enter the protected area using the technological roads built by the enterprise and who catch fish despite the prohibition. As part of its social responsibility activities, Bauxite Timan signed a contract with the Federal Agency for Fisheries, according to which 125 thousand whitefish were released in the river Vym for the reproduction of fish resources.