the international potash company funded and once owned by Russian
billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, has caused another ecological disaster
in the Perm region. The sinkhole, which appeared in 2007, has
increased in November of last year after high levels of brine inflow.
At first it was about 20 by 30 meters large. In just a few weeks, it
had already grown to 30 by 40 meters large. Throughout December and
even now, emergency officials are monitoring the situation and trying
to do what they can to slow down and prevent the hole from expanding.
Thankfully the hole is located on the site of an abandoned mine and appeared below an abandoned settlement. Surrounding the hole are many housing units, and several houses have already fallen into the hole. Fortunately, these settlements were abandoned in 2005 when residents first started noticing that the ground was beginning to sink.
Even though the immediate mine was already abandoned, this sinkhole is causing such a gigantic problem in Solikamsk that over 1,000 miners working in a neighboring mine had to stop work and evacuate the area. All of this is starting to cause serious effects for the global economy. The Solikamsk mines account for 3.5% of world potash production, and many fear that this accident is affecting production and causing rising costs. The situation is causing many in the industry to wonder why Uralkali has been doing for years and continues to commit serious mining accidents and put their business and the lives of their workers in danger.
Years after the sinkhole appeared, there still has been little response from Rybolovlev or the company he founded. Current and past officials and executives at Uralkali continue to downplay the situation and their role in the accident. They have gone on record saying that the accident is not catastrophic for Uralkali or the local people, even though it is quite obvious that it is. Otherwise, they wouldn't be seeing the steep decline in shares of Uralkali and they wouldn't have had to send more than 1,000 workers home.
Whatever happens next with the gigantic sinkhole in Solikamsk, you can be sure that the government and the people of Perm will largely be footing the bill. As is routine procedure now, Rybolovlev and Uralkali have created a big mess, but have done very little to clean them up. The only thing you can be sure of is that this won't be the last sinkhole or the last environmental calamity caused by Uralkali. There are surely many more on the way.