Kyrgyzstan will receive 2.2 billion rubles that Rosatom Corporation plans to allocate for the reclamation of five tailing dumps within the implementation of the intergovernmental programme Recultivation of territories of states affected by uranium mining, Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations of the Kyrgyz Republic Azamat Mambetov announced Wednesday.
The reclamation of tailing dumps in Kadzhi-Sai village in the Issyk-Kul region and Min-Kush village in the Naryn region is nearing completion as part of the first phase of the programme whereas the reclamation of the tailing dumps in Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken regions is planned within the second phase that is planned to be completed by December 31, 2023.
As Mambetov noted, the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Kyrgyzstan and Rosatom, intend to continue cooperation in bringing Kyrgyzstan’s former mining facilities to safe radiation and environmental condition.
As an important source of uranium in the former Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan and the other countries in the region were left with a large amount of radioactively contaminated material placed in mining waste dumps and tailing sites that represent a threat to the environment and the health of the population due to the risk of the possible pollution of ground and surface water.
Per the data published by the Ministry of Emergency Situations, there are 92 disposal sites in Kyrgyzstan for toxic and radioactive substances – 36 of which are located in Mailuu-Suu and contain 2.9 million cubic meters of toxic and hazardous substances in total covering an area of 44 hectares.
At least a third of the tailing dumps (around 23) contain uranium elements, while the others contain a number of radioactive rocks, heavy metals, and cyanide residue.
In the last couple of years, the Environmental Remediation Account for Central Asia (ERA) funded the successful completion of remediation at Kyrgyzstan’s former uranium legacy sites in Shekaftar and Min-Kush, securing the sustainability of the sites for years to come.
The Kyrgyz authorities certified and accepted both sites in December 2021 and February 2022 respectively and the activity was completed on schedule.
The remediation works in the settlement of Shekaftar, located in the south-western part of the country close to the Uzbek border, included the closure of uranium mine openings, the removal of waste-rock dumps, and the demolition and disposal of mining facilities located in the village and very close to residential areas.
The activities on the second uranium legacy site of Min-Kush, located approximately 130 km south of Bishkek, included, among other things, the demolition of the former ore-processing plant and the creation of clean, flat surfaces, reducing the risks that the mining legacy posed to Min-Kush residents.