16 Dec 2010 14:55

Raspadskaya owners pump 5 bln rubles into clean-up, mine restarts - Putin

MOSCOW. Dec 16 (Interfax) - The owners of the Raspadskaya deep mine, scene of an accident that killed dozens of coal miners in May this year, have spent more than 5 billion rubles on the clean-up operation and the mine is now restarting, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said during a televised Q&A session.

"You have to give the owners their due. They've invested over 5 billion rubles. They haven't economized on social or production issues," he said, talking to a resident of the city of Mezhdurechensk, where the mine is located.

The May 9 accident, caused by a series of blasts, killed at least 76 workers, with 15 still unaccounted for. More than 134 people suffered in total.

Evraz Group, on the one hand, and Gennady Kozovoi, Raspadskaya's CEO, and Alexander Vagin, the company's board chairman, on the other, are the beneficiaries of the Cyprus-registered Corber Enterprises on equal terms. Raspadskaya's free float is around 20%.

brought the mine to a standstill. "The mine is now restarting," Putin said.

OJSC Raspadskaya Thursday said a coal face with 623,000 tonnes of coal was going back into production.

Regarding the coal industry in general, Putin said the state would soon be allocating additional funds to tackle problems and be creating liquidation funds for pit closures.

A woman from the Perm territory called in and said two mining villages were half-dilapidated and turning into what locals call "a second Chechnya."

"It's sad to see things like this against the backdrop of the sector's relative prosperity. It suggests that whoever dealt with this didn't do it properly," Putin said.

A program to restructure the coal industry expired last year, Putin said. "But I think we'll continue it and allocate more funds from the federal budget before long to tackle problems like this," he said.

There's nothing extraordinary about the fact that in the context of the industry's development, some coal mines start up while others close down. "Of course you need to think about how to avoid what has happened to villages like that," he said.

Special liquidation funds already exist in sectors like the nuclear industry to collect money from an enterprise's ongoing activity and then use this when enterprises are restructured and to resolve social problems when they are shut down, Putin said.

"I think liquidation funds like this ought to be set up in the coal industry as well, and very soon," he said.