15 february 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Chukotka Governor Roman Kopin

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chukotka Governor Roman Kopin, who met to discuss the socio-economic performance of the Chukotka Autonomous Area in 2010, focused on the development of new gold and copper deposits. The governor also said they had established a multipurpose educational centre in the area to find and help talented young people.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Kopin, you know that gross domestic product and industrial production have grown across the country. Unfortunately, we see that they continue to decline in Chukotka. What is the current situation? I am wondering about industry and the number of cattle, which has decreased, as well as some other problems. You do, on the other hand, have some achievements to your credit. In particular, large projects which are receiving considerable investment. Let us talk about your problems and possible solutions.

Roman Kopin: Mr Putin, I would like to tell you that according to preliminary estimates the region’s GDP totalled 39 billion roubles in 2010, which is 2 billion more than in 2009.

Vladimir Putin: So, it has grown, has it?

Roman Kopin: Yes, though the growth was small, only about 2%, but still. It is true that we had hoped to post a better result, but this is the target figure because the Chukotka economy is based on gold mining. According to results reported from the region’s largest gold mine, Kupol, which provides 20% of Russia’s gold, there was a planned reduction in output due to the expected lower grade of gold ore.

We are working on this issue, developing new deposits and looking for new investors; we hope that gold production will start at another large mine, Mayskoye, in 2011 or 2012, which will help us improve this indicator. The best year in terms of gold production was 2009, when we produced 30 tonnes. We produce an average of 25 tonnes of gold a year, which is as much as was produced in Chukotka during the Soviet period.

Vladimir Putin: You also have copper deposits, as far as I know?

Roman Kopin: Yes, we do. The most promising of them is the Peschanka copper, gold and molybdenum deposit in the Baimskoye province. An exploration investment project began there two years ago. Preliminary estimates show that this deposit could be very big. Its gold reserves have been estimated at 1,600 tonnes and cooper reserves at 27 million tonnes, which means this is a huge field, both in Russia and globally. It could be one of the five largest deposits in the world. We plan to designate part of these resources as reserves in 2011 and later to start developing it.

Regarding agriculture, which is an important sector for Chukotka, we had 195,000 reindeer in late 2010. The region has enough reindeer meat for internal consumption. Two Finnish reindeer slaughter houses have opened; they process 30% of the meat produced in Chukotka. Reindeer meat production has grown from 325 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes.

Vladimir Putin: They tell me the number of reindeer has decreased. Is this so?

Roman Kopin: Yes, it has, but insignificantly. We believe that this number will supply enough meat to the region. When we see that there is a possibility to export it to neighbouring Magadan Region, Vladivostok and possibly even Moscow, we will increase the number of reindeer we keep.

Vladimir Putin: Can you do it?

Roman Kopin: Yes, we can.

Vladimir Putin: I know that you have a positive example of an educational centre established at a school. Tell me about it.

Roman Kopin: The Chukotka Autonomous Area joined the educational experiment long ago and was one of the first to approve the Unified State Examination. We have now established a multipurpose educational centre at the school in Anadyr, which offers quality instruction combined with vocational training.

Vladimir Putin: What is the student body capacity?

Roman Kopin: We hope that it will have 200 to 300 students.

Vladimir Putin: Will it operate as a boarding school?

Roman Kopin: Yes, it will. Its goal will be to find talented young people and offer them a quality education in Chukotka, and possibly to help them further improve their education after that. 

Vladimir Putin: I know that you have reported good performance results for the housing and utilities sector in 2010. You have not raised utility rates, as far as I know.

Roman Kopin: Yes, we have so far managed to restrain the growth of rates, although this certainly is a serious challenge for us. Only electricity rates have been raised in the region, by 10%. I think the most important thing is that the sector has been operating consistently and without accidents in our rigorous northern conditions, ensuring the delivery of fuel and making repairs according to schedule, and possibly even commissioning new utility facilities, such as boiler rooms and diesel power plants.

Vladimir Putin: In other words, you posted the same results in 2010 as in 2009.

Roman Kopin: Yes.

Vladimir Putin: This is good. Thank you.