New outlines for Polesie
[b]Creation of the first Polesie-Lelchitsy Regional Industrial Park in the Gomel Region is likely to become a reality[/b]The project was presented in May at the Gomel economic forum, and at once caused a wave of investment interest. The idea is to develop Polesie’s, deposit rich, land. And this is not just a theoretical supposition, but a concrete project, with a solid business plan.
The project was presented in May at the Gomel economic forum, and at once caused a wave of investment interest. The idea is to develop Polesie’s, deposit rich, land. And this is not just a theoretical supposition, but a concrete project, with a solid business plan.
This initiative has been considered over the last few decades. Even in the 70s, no decision was made whilst scientists were investigating Lelchitsy area`s deposits, as well as the four Polesie regions adjoining it: Yelsk, Zhitkovichi, Mozyr and Petrikov. The West area of Gomel appears to be filled with minerals. Today, this region is known as the Belarusian Ruhr, because of its similarity with German region, rich in natural resources, one of the most successful investment platforms of Europe.
Just what is concealed deep under the surface of Polesie? Firstly, there are fuel and energy resources, in the form of brown coal, shale and peat. There is no need to explain how these will benefit the Republic economy. Industrial reserves of brown coal in the Zhitkovichi and Petrikov districts, where the general reserves make about 100 million cubic metres, have been thoroughly prospected. Deposits of brown coal at Tonezhy and Lelchitsy deposits in the north are preliminary prospected. The general preliminary reserves here make more than 150 million tonnes, while predicted reserves would increase this to more than 250 million tonnes. On the basis of these two deposits it is possible that open-pit coal mines, with capacity up to 4 million tonnes per year, could be constructed, along with power stations and the manufacture of humic fertilisers.
Large deposits of combustible shale are located in the central part of the region, around Turov. Its general reserves exceed 2.7 billion tonnes. Combustible shale can be considered energy feedstock, and also as a large potential feedstock base for the development of the chemical industry and the manufacture of construction materials. The construction of a power technological complex, manufacturing shale oil, gaseous fuel and chemical production is planned at the deposit. A power station could also be constructed at this location.
No less impressive are the volumes of reserves of other minerals. For example, deposits of rock salt in the Mozyr District have great potential. It is planned to construct a soda ash manufacturing plant here. Exploratory work has already been carried out, and now only a strategic investor is needed.
These places are rich in construction materials. In the territory of Lelchitsy District, the workers explore the deposit of granite in Glushkevichi, which borders Ukraine.
A deposit of granite at the Nadezhda opencast mine is offered for exploration. The feedstocks possess rare and unique aesthetic properties, opening up the potential for the creation of enterprises that manufacture finished materials made from natural stone.
The deposits of sapropels, used as phosphate-containing fertilisers, at Chervonoe Lake, have been already explored. The construction of an initiative producing phosphate-containing sapropelic fertilisers in the Petrikov District is also expected.
A complex exploration project of sapropel deposits in Lelchitsy District is planned. The work in will be conducted in several directions: The manufacture of peat and sapropel based granulated fertilisers, the production of peat fuel granules, the manufacture of potassium humate and the production of biologically active, vitaminised fodder additives.
And these are only the main features of the potential of the Polesie area. This part of the country contains reserves of brown coal, peat, combustible shale, granite, bentonite clay, sapropel and other natural minerals which can’t be found in the other corners of Belarus. However, there are also rare feedstocks: beryllium, zirconium, high-mineralised industrial solutions, and thermal waters. All of these are really in demand in the building, agriculture, metallurgy, chemical and perfumery industries as well as in instrument making, nuclear, aviation and the space industry.
According to economists, one important factor is the fact that they can be used at the enterprises which already operate in the Republic. In Lelchitsy District, for example, deposits of bentonite clay exist, and these feedstocks already ‘work’ in the metallurgy industry where they are used in the manufacture of heat insulation and hydraulic insulation materials.
The implementation of the conceived investment projects will undoubtedly require enormous financial investment, especially in the fuel and energy spheres. Therefore, local authorities have begun to actively work attracting investors. Their representative informed me that part of the projects is already being realised, and that there are a lot of those who want to invest in the exploration of building materials deposits.
But this is not everything. An important direction of the development of the Gomel’s Polesie-Lelchitsy Industrial Park is tourism. The natural resource potential of this region is unique. The Pripyatsky National Park, the Zhitkovichi Wildlife Reserve, Srednyaya Pripyat Reserve, Mozyrskie Ovragi (Mozyr Hills) and Strelsky reserves, and Pontic Azalea Plantation natural monument are located here. Today the popular destination for ecological and sports tourism is the landscape of the Mozyr Ravines Wildlife Preserve which, since 2006, a mountain-skiing complex has been operating. Also ecological tourism, offered by the Pripyatsky National Park, is in high demand.
The historical and cultural heritage of the region includes 167 architectural monuments, natural and human history and archaeology. Recreation territories are represented by nine different zones. The unique environment and the historical and cultural heritage of this territory suggest that historical and cultural, ecological, recreational, sports and hunting tourism development should be undertaken.
In order to take advantage of this potential to its maximum extent, the industrial park project also proposes the construction of a railway in Polesie. This 121 kilometre long ‘branch’ would eventually connect the whole region with the rest of the country and would facilitate the extraction of deposits, construction and the transportation of cargo. The construction of a Glushkovichi-Lelchitsy-Mikhalki railway line is a key factor of the Gomel Industrial Park.
There is a big job ahead to create the Polesie-Lelchitsy Park — the largest investment platform in Belarus. It will take years to achieve the first really tangible results, but one thing is sure: the near future of the whole region is being developed in Polesie now.
By Violetta Dralyuk
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