By Olga Bogomazova
The new enterprises will be located in the Minsk region. “We’ll have three new factories bottling drinking water in 2012, in 2013, at the latest,” stresses Vladimir Tsalko, Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection. “These will be built using Austrian, German, Dutch and Czech capital.” Around 70 percent of the water produced will be exported.
According to Mr. Tsalko, investors arriving in Belarus are interested in drinking water manufacture, being particularly keen to work in Belarus’ centre — in the Minsk region. “This is the most attractive market for them, since the necessary labour force is available,” he explains. He hopes that, in future, foreign companies will also head for other regions of the country.
Mr. Tsalko asserts that water is one of Belarus’ major treasures, which should be used correctly. The issue is becoming more acute against the background of world forecasts regarding water deficits in many countries. A water strategy has been developed in Belarus, determining the best way to use water resources for the next twenty years. In total, around 200 fresh groundwater deposits have been developed in the republic. “We extract around 900,000 cubic metres of water and have the ability to raise this to 20m,” asserts the Minister, underlining that separate wells require minimum costs, since water in them meets all international standards; only bottling is needed.
Geologists have determined that over 80 sites in Belarus are suitable for the construction of plants to extract and bottle fresh groundwater. Last year, the Geology Department prepared and sent a special reference book to potential investors, presenting complete information on the organisation of joint ventures to bottle drinking water in Belarus. It also tackled how to stimulate production and sell produce, as well as the peculiarities of exporting drinking water.
In 2009, Belarus exported $3m of mineral water, with supplies delivered to Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Azerbaijan and Canada. However, over 90 percent is still sold domestically.