Putin wants to end Soviet secrecy over mineral resources

Diamonds generic file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.com – February 14, 2013)

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an end to the long Soviet-era habit of classifying geological data as a state secret. As part of the new look Russia-can-do Inc, that he hopes will bring in more investment, the president said the information on the size and location of the countrys natural resource made public.

The Soviets were always very secretive about its wealth-in-the-ground making life difficult for would-be international miners wanting to invest and exploit deposits.

Indeed, even today the city of Norilsk in Russias far north and home to the counties nickel and PGM deposits remains a closed city you need to apply to the FSB to get permission to visit the frozen city in the middle of nowhere.

But since taking office Putin has launched the biggest and most resolute campaign to finally do something about Russias international investment image and that includes becoming a little more transparent.

“It is time to consider abolishing the ‘classified’ status for the balance of our reserves,” Putin said at a meeting of the fuel and energy commission on February 13.

The “classified” status is an anachronism, as international companies have been operating in the country for some time, and an international audit is being held, Putin said.

“We need to elaborate a new classification of reserves, similar to what is used internationally,” the president said reports Ria Novosti.

Mineral Resources Agency’s Director Alexander Popov said on Wednesday that “a new classification of reserves may be introduced in Russia by the end of 2013. This would enable Russia to climb from eighth to third place by proved reserves,” he said.

Popov said that the new system will stipulate not only the quantity but also the quality of reserves, as well as other economic parameters. The abolition of the “classified” status is necessary as companies run international audits and the classification is only valid in Russia, he said.