The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry of the Russian Federation has called
an emergency meeting after environmentalists walked out of a working
group meant to resolve a dispute about road-building in the Murmansk
Minister Sergei Donskoi will personally chair a meeting of the group
in Moscow next week, ministry spokesman Timur Chernyshev said.
The move brings to a head a dispute that has been simmering since
the government granted rights in 2006 to the Northwestern Phosphorus,
part of the Acron Group, to extract apatite and nepheline — both rare
minerals — from the Khibiny Mountains.
Earlier this year the company started building a road between
the Partomchorr and Oleny Ruchei deposits, across Umbozersky Pass
on the Kola Peninsula, an area earmarked for a national park.
Environmentalists immediately complained that the Umbozersky Pass
road would irreparably alter the relatively small mountain chain, kill
the idea of the national park and destroy plans for developing
ecotourism in the area.
A working group that includes representatives of the company,
the Murmansk region administration and environmental groups was set up
in June to resolve the issue.