MISSION: Southwest Research and Information Center is a multi-cultural organization working to promote the health of people and communities, protect natural resources, ensure citizen participation, and secure environmental and social justice now and for future generations

International Work

Southwest Research and Information Center has worked in a variety of countries on issues related to natural resources. One of our current projects, the Russia-Mongolia Exchange program, has been a catalyst for sustained cooperation among civil society organizations in Russia and Mongolia, whose leaders met for the first time during our initial three-country exchange program in 2007. The ability to conduct annual exchange programs has provided a solid framework for sustained collaboration, especially for community-based groups in Russia and Mongolia, where funds for travel are so rare. The educational and training elements of these exchanges helps us examine the critical environmental impact issues that have been raised by our Asian partners. In addition, in this work we emphasize the participation of young people, women, and indigenous community leaders, which gives a broader reach for our exchanges. 

For 2014, we hope to expand the program's inter-organizational and personal partnerships that were successfully established during past exchanges. These partnerships provide us with opportunities to dig deeply into long-term mine reclamation, renewable energy, and cultural resources protection issues, as addressed during previous exchanges.

The civil society organizations that are our key partners in this program include the:

  • Buryat Regional Organization on Baikal, based in Ulan-Ude (which is the capital of the Buryat Republic of Russia);
  • Center for Citizenship Education, based in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia;
  • Mongolian Environmental Civic Council (MECC), also based in Ulaanbaatar; and
  • The Baikal Watch Program at Earth Island Institute, based in San Francisco, California.

New Program: U.S.-Russia Health Risk Research Dialogue, is being conducted by Southwest Research and Information Center (SRIC) and The Buryat Regional Organization on Baikal. The project will focus on development of research methods to address human health risk in areas of environmental contamination in the Southwest U.S. and Buryat Republic of Russia.

Reports/Presentations

Last Updated: February 12, 2016

MONGOLIA Oyu Tolgoi Phase 2: Plans, Issues and Risks An Overview of Oyu Tolgoi Phase 2 Mining Plans and some of the issues and risks associated with block cave underground mining, international metal price uncertainty, project power supply, and impacts on water resources used by herders. Prepared for CEE Bankwatch Network, Prague, Czech Republic www.bankwatch.org and OT Watch www.minewatch.mn, by Paul Robinson, Research Director Southwest Research and Information Center (January 10, 2016). Summary Available.

MONGOLIA "Water and Mining - Impact avoidance through mine design and planning, balancing operational needs with the environmental sensitivity" prepared for Conference on THE MITIGATION HIERARCHY: REDUCING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS OF LARGESCALE AND SMALL-SCALE MINING MAY 27-28, 2015 ULAANBAATAR, MONGOLIA by Paul Robinson, Research Director Southwest Research and Information Center

CANADA The "Inquiry Commission of Uranium Industry Issues" in Québec, created by the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE), has a schedule for a question and information phase starting September 3, 2014. This phase allows the commission and the participants to deepen their knowledge of the issues concerning the uranium industry in Québec, with the help of specialists and resource persons. BAPE Website: (www.bape.gouv.qc.ca). SRIC's Paul Robinson was invited to testify. His presentation, "Environmental Issues and Challenges associated with Uranium Exploration and Uranium Mill Tailings," is divided into sections below:

(September 9 & 10, 2014)

MONGOLIA ERDENET COPPER-MOLYBDENUM MINE AND MILL COMPLEX: AN INTRODUCTION CONTAINNG AERIAL IMAGERY AND SELECTIONS FROM RECENT TECHNICAL LITERATURE - A BRIEFING PAPER COMPILED FOR INTERNATIONAL MINING AND THE ENVIRONMENT EXCHANGE PROGRAM – AUGUST 2014 (PREPARED JULY 16, 2014)

MONGOLIA A Tank of Warm Water Brews a New Development Tea in Mongolia’s South Gobi Desert article by Keith Schneider of Circle of Blue who traveled to Mongolia and visited the Oyu Tolgoi mine (owned by Rio Tinto) with SRIC's Paul Robinson. (19 August 2013)

MONGOLIA Overview of Human and Natural Resource Impacts of the Oyu Tolgoi Project, presented to the Mongolian Parliament Standing Committee on the Environment by Paul Robinson, SRIC (1.01M pdf, August 16, 2013)

Karamken Tailings Dam Break

RUSSIA Public discussion of the draft reclamation plan for the Karamkenskogo tailings dam, (English translation follows Russian text.) February 10, 2012.

MEXICO Arsenic in Baja California Sur: Occurrence in Soil, Water, and Mineral Deposits and Remediation Technologies and Their Estimated Costs Foro Agua y Arsenico: Problematica de Baja California Sur/ Water and Arsenic Forum: Problems in Baja California Sur La Paz, BCS, Mexico, December 9­10, 2011. Paul Robinson, Research Director, Southwest Research and Information Center

MEXICO Renewed Gold Mining in Planned in Baja California Sur: Water Supply-Related Information, March 7, 2011. Paul Robinson, Research Director, Southwest Research and Information Center

RUSSIA A compilation of documents related to the Karamken Gold Mine Tailings Dam break of August 28, 2009.

MEXICO Renewed Gold Mining in Planned in Baja California Sur: Location, Current Plans, Environmental Issues at Mines and Initial Observations about the Current Plans, June 2009. Paul Robinson, Research Director, Southwest Research and Information Center

RUSSIA A guide to support the expanded use of Citizen Environmental Rights in Magadan and Eastern Russia This Guide is compiled to help citizens of Magadan Oblast become familiar with their environmental rights, and to encourage them to participate in public decisions that are related to mining activities in their area. May 2005.

RUSSIA/MONGOLIA Mining and Mineral Development Management Policy in the Selenga River Watershed This paper provides an introduction to the scope of mining activity in the Selenga River watershed in both Russia and Mongolia. The Selenga River is the primary tributary to Lake Baikal and drains an area the size of France. The most significant past and current mine sites in the watershed are identified, environmental consequences of those operations are described and options for policy action to address environmental and social impacts are considered. The paper is in proceedings of: Science for Watershed Conservation: Multidisciplinary Approaches for Natural Resource Management Conference Convened by United States Geological Survey (USGS), Institute of General and Experimental Biology, Siberian Division -Russian Academy of Sciences, and Mongolian Academy of Sciences, September 1 - 8, 2004, Ulan-Ude, Russia and Ulanbaatar, Mongolia

RUSSIA A waste containment dam break spilled 160,000 cubic meters of coal ash into the Partizanskaya River and the Nahodka Bay watershed from a ring dike disposal site near Partizansk in the Russian Far East 200 kilometers east of Vladivostok in May 2004. Observations and Selected Photos have been compiled to identify concerns raised during a site visit by Research Director Paul Robinson at the request of ISAR-FE (Institute for Social Action in Russia - Far East) and colleagues in the region. Partizansk Information on the Web provides additional background on the Partizansk area.

CANADA "Comments and Recommendations Submitted to Environmental Assessment Panel Reviewing Decommissioning Proposals for the Elliot Lake Uranium Mine Tailings Management Areas" is a ten point analysis of the closure plans for the large uranium waste sites in Ontario prepared by Paul Robinson in 1995 for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Panel Hearings on the Decommissioning. The "Comments" includes a critique of the sub-aqueous disposal aspects of the Elliot Lake decommissioning proposals. These comments were prepared on behalf of Northwatch, a community-based environmental organization with general offices in North Bay, Ontario.

RUSSIA "A Model Mine Shows Its Cracks: An Independent Report on Environmental Problems At The Kubaka Gold Mine in the Russian Far East," by Julie Edlund, David Gordon and Wm. Paul Robinson for Pacific Environment and Resources Center, with technical assistance from Southwest Research and Information Center.

RUSSIA Copy of research paper on uranium and thorium mines in the Chita region of Siberia and their associated environmental and health problems on behalf Baikalwatch, a project of the Earth Island Institute and the Baikal Center for Ecological and Citizen Initiatives in Irkutsk, Russia titled: "Environmental Damage and Policy Issues in the Uranium and Gold Mining Districts of Chita Oblast in the Russian Far East: A Report on Existing Problems at Baley and Krasnokamensk and Policy Needs in the Region" (91k document) completed November 1996.

PERU EVALUATION OF ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGY CHANGES PROPOSED FOR THE LA OROYA SMELTER COMPLEX IN CENTRAL PERU: FINAL REPORT February 1, 1999. Submitted to: Sociedad Peruana de Derechos Ambientales (SPDA).

Synopsis of trip can be found in The Workbook.


Web Links

Baikal Watch Earth Island Institute’s Baikal Watch program is part of a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the preservation of Lake Baikal and the Siberian frontier.

Partizansk web links. Partizansk is a city in Primorski Krai in the Russian Far East 240 kilometers east of Vladivostok and 40 kilometers north of Nahokda. It is located on the west side of the Partizanskaya River, the main tributary to Nahodka Bay. The Partizansk area has been the site of active coal mining since the late 19th century. Mines in the area extracted more than 1,000,000 tons per year through the 1980s and 1990s, though coal mining has ceased since the end of the Soviet Union. It is home to a large coal-fired electric power plant that consumed up to 3,500 tons of coal per day since it began operating in the early 1950s. The ash from the coal burned in the plant has been a disposed of behind a circular dam located on the floodplain of the Partizansk River. In May 2004, portion of the dam broke and coal ash flowed out of the breach (hole) reaching the Partizansk River and Nahodka Bay.

Pacific Environment and Resources Center (PERC) works to protect endangered ecosystems and prevent irresponsible development around the Pacific Rim through grassroots advocacy, environmental education and law and policy analysis.

WISE Uranium Project is part of World Information Service on Energy - WISE International, a worldwide network of safe energy activists. This very comprehensive and frequently updated site covers: Environmental and Health Impacts of Uranium Mining and Milling; Decommissioning of Uranium Mines and Mills; Reclamation of Uranium Mine Wastes and Uranium Mill Tailings. The site has strong depth of information and a comprehensive list of links to resources around the world.

The Natural Resources Canada, Minerals and Metals Sector home page is a site for the federal mineral agency of Canada. The site includes mining-related links; a directory of specialists; access to gopher databases; and information on world production data for selected metals and on monthly production of Canada's leading minerals.

Mineral Policy Institute bills itself as Australia's only group dedicated solely to researching and campaigning on mining issues. They conduct research, collate information, produce company profiles, and campaign for improved management of the minerals sector. They seek to stop exploration and mining in inappropriate areas or where the impacts are unacceptably high. MPI publishes Mining Monitor, a quarterly 16-page newsletter about the social, economic and environmental impacts of the mining industry.

Friends of the Earth is a national, non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the planet from environmental degradation; preserving biological, cultural, and ethnic diversity; and empowering citizens to have an influential voice in decisions affecting the quality of their environment -- and their lives.

Sustainable Energy and Anti-Uranium Service (SEA-US) is an Australian website with information about problems caused by uranium and nuclear energy; Australia's experience with uranium and nuclear power; nuclear history and timeline for both Australia and the world; the struggle of Australian Aborigines against uranium waste on their lands; "Uranium Deposits and Mines: Past-Present-Future?"; "Poorly Engineered Tailings Dams," links relating to uranium and alternative energy; a detailed glossary; and a detailed uranium discussion guide.

Trust for Mutual Understanding The Trust for Mutual Understanding awards grants to American nonprofit organizations to support the international travel component of cultural and environmental exchanges conducted in partnership with institutions and individuals in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe. Priority consideration is given to projects that involve direct, in-depth professional interaction, with the potential for sustained collaboration; that show evidence of professional accomplishment and innovation; and/or that respond to social contexts and engage local communities.

From Voices of the Earth



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