Mr Putin also spoke via video linkup with miners in Kemerovo Region, Norilsk, and Yakutia.
Russia celebrates Miners’ Day on the last Sunday in August, but this year, events to mark the holiday are taking place in several regions right from the start of the week.
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Excerpts from transcript of meeting with representatives of coal mining and mining industries
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends! Good afternoon, industry veterans!
I see that we have several generations of miners here today. We are meeting in the run-up to your professional holiday, Miners’ Day. First of all, I want to congratulate you and your families and all miners on this holiday.
This holiday celebrates the labour of truly hard-working, strong and brave people who always offer a reliable shoulder to lean on in difficult times. Miners are indeed a strong breed of people, tested by experience. Your labour builds and strengthens character and the working man’s dignity, creates pride in one’s profession, and forges traditions of true brotherhood that miners pass on from one generation to the next.
Miners’ Day was established as a holiday 65 years ago as a mark of the country’s recognition for the huge contribution that miners, workers, and soldiers made to developing our country, achieving victory in the Great Patriotic War, and rebuilding the country and economy after the war. I want to say a few words to the industry veterans in particular. A miner’s labour is never easy. Miners earn their wages at the cost of their own sweat and toil, sometimes, sadly, at the cost of their own blood. The glorious history of Kuzbass, Donbass, Pechora, Krasnoyarsk, Norilsk, Spitsbergen, Yakutia, and Sakhalin are proud pages in your own work histories. You are models and examples for today’s miners. Those who choose this difficult but honourable profession are continuing your work and achieving new impressive results.
We remember the problems the industry faced in the 1990s. Some predicted the industry’s demise back then, said it had no future, but the miners once again showed that whoever does not fear work, is devoted to his cause and believes in himself will always have a future.
Russia’s coal and mining industries are showing steady development today. There have been quality changes in the sector. These changes were made possible above all by targeted state support and your own hard work. Coal production has increased by a quarter over the last decade in Russia, and export volumes have tripled. Last year, almost 340 million tons of coal were extracted – a record in our recent history. We have created a solid base and now have the possibility of making broad strategic plans.
”Miners are indeed a strong breed of people, tested by experience. Your labour builds and strengthens character and the working man’s dignity, creates pride in one’s profession, and forges traditions of true brotherhood.“
As you know, we have approved the long-term programme for developing the coal sector through to 2030. Its main priorities are to modernise production and expand the resource base, including by developing new coal production centres in the Far East, Tuva, and Yakutia. Of course, the priority must always be decent working conditions and fair pay and pensions for miners. I hope that company owners and trade unions will pay due attention to resolving miners’ social issues. We have 170,000 people employed in the coal industry alone, and together with their families this makes almost 700,000 people.
The authorities continue to take systematic steps aimed at making the work environment safer and more reliable. We are working with regional authorities to upgrade mining towns and settlements. We know that there are still very many problems in this area. We are continuing the programme to rebuild and modernise the sector, and this includes settling housing issues and carrying out environmental protection measures. We will help our companies to carry out development programmes and work through public-private partnerships to develop transport and logistics infrastructure, so as to give Russian companies better access to promising new markets for their products.
I want to repeat today, that no matter what the situation on the global market, and you know that the situation is still worrying and uncertain, we will continue to work as we have over these last years, including during the global economic and financial crisis, and will leave no one to face their difficulties alone, if problems arise. I hope that problems will not arise. One should always hope for the best of course, but at the same time prepare for all possible turns of events. I am sure that together we can deal with any problems and will work together to strengthen the foundation of our country’s economic, industrial and technological development.
Friends, you have dedicated your lives to one of the most needed and most worthy professions, and the riches you produce serve us all. It is thanks to you that our land’s riches serve its people.
You represent mines employing thousands of people, and I know that the organisers of today’s meeting have set things up so that we can also link up with your colleagues in the Kuzbass, Norilsk, and Yakutia.
Once more, I congratulate all miners and their families on this professional holiday and wish you all the very best.
Thank you for your attention, and thank you for your work.
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(Speaking to miners from Elga open-pit coal mine.) I recall quite well how this project developed from the moment the licensing issue was resolved. And so, in a fairly short period of time, your team has truly been able to do a great deal. This is a very important and very promising project for the entire sector, but what is particularly important and good is that it is helping to develop our Far Eastern territories, allowing us to effectively work not only for the good of our own economy and our nation, but also work on the emerging markets of Asia Pacific.
We will soon be holding the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok. It will bring together heads of state and government from the Asia-Pacific Region, all the nations with shorelines on the Pacific Ocean. I am certain that we will actively discuss issues pertaining to the development of the coal sector, at least at the Business Advisory Council, because there is significant interest in your work and the results of your efforts, from both your partners within Russia and our foreign partners.
As for the Elga deposit, it is huge in terms of its size and the quality of coal. I sincerely wish you success. You have already talked about what has been done. Indeed, you and your people have done even more, if we look at what you started with. And I sincerely congratulate you on Miners’ Day and wish you all the best.
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”We have approved the long-term programme for developing the coal sector through to 2030. Its main priorities are to modernise production and expand the resource base.“
(Speaking to Norilsk miners.) The Norilsk Nickel company is one of the nation’s oldest companies in the sector; exploration of this deposit began in the first half of the last century. I want to say that Norilsk Nickel certainly has good prospects, despite certain problems related to its resource base, but there is still enough for decades to come.
Indeed, many problems – both technical and social – have been solved. But we will need to do even more, because in all of these decades, some issues were resolved while other problems accumulated. These include social matters, issues pertaining to social infrastructure, road and railroad infrastructure, social facilities and sports venues. I know that the company itself gives this a great deal of attention and is building new sports facilities in Norilsk.
It is no accident that one of our colleagues brought up the environmental issue today. This is one of the most pressing issues in the region. But here, too, the situation is changing for the better. It is also changing for the better thanks in part to the companies’ owners and their social responsibility, although so far, they still have not resolved all the issues amongst themselves. We hope they will resolve all their disputes in the interests of the company and the people who work there.
But to a large extent, solving environmental issues depends on regional and local authorities. I count on them to give these problems the necessary attention. But I know that the miners themselves have never let the nation down and certainly will not do so in the future. They will strive for the maximum results. We very much count on it.
I congratulate you on this holiday and wish you great success!
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(Speaking to Kemerovo Region miners.) I would like to say the following with regard to Norilsk Nickel and other companies, including yours. First of all, I must bring up a sensitive matter; we must talk about it even despite the upcoming holiday. All of us – the federal authorities, the regional and local authorities, and the mine owners – must first and foremost think about peoples’ safety. I want to stress this: all of us together, because these issues cannot be resolved working alone, even by top managers or directors with powers and authority. This is a common goal for labour collectives, managers and trade unions.
As you know, after the well-known tragic events, we made several decisions of a material and administrative nature; we changed the mine security control procedures. We also partly changed the system of labour compensation, not only to make it more fair, but also so that the previous system would not encourage people to disregard safety regulations.
Friends, I very much expect that we will always work together to do everything necessary for ensuring the security of our people working in the mines. That is the first thing I wanted to say.
And second, we will never forget – and I say this with pain in my heart but I must say it nevertheless, — we will never forget those who are not with us today, we will not forget their families. We will always remember and support them, so that they feel that in sorrow and in happiness, their friends and the government are always near them.
And finally, I know the attitudes of the miners’ collectives toward veterans: you truly treat them with a great deal of attention and respect. I am certain that this tradition will be maintained in the future.
Congratulations on the upcoming holiday!
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I have met with many of you here in different regions of our nation on various occasions: ones that were purely business-focused, tragic, and celebratory. And I am very pleased that we are marking the upcoming holiday – Miners’ Day – in Moscow, at the Kremlin. I think that the miners deserve this kind of attention on the part of the nation, the government and our citizens.
Congratulations on this holiday. I wish you all the very best!