Russia, Mongolia to discuss plans to build dams in Lake Baikal area

Russian environmentalists and scientists have long expressed concern about Mongolia’s plans.

MOSCOW, February 1. /TASS/. A Russian-Mongolian intergovernmental commission will gather in the first part of 2017 to discuss issues surrounding Mongolia’s planned construction of dams at rivers that feed Russia’s Lake Baikal, Russia’s natural resources minister said.

“Naturally we are going to discuss all issues with our colleagues, including trans-border ones, namely Mongolia’s HPP (hydroelectric power plant) project. As far as Mongolia is concerned, we plan to discuss it in Moscow. The date, in the first half of this year, remains to be set,” Sergei Donskoi told reporters Tuesday.

The minister added that Russia was going to negotiate with China, which plans to build the dams in Mongolia.

Russian environmental and scientific circles have repeatedly expressed their concerns about Mongolia’s plans to build three dams at rivers that feed Lake Baikal, the world’s largest and deepest freshwater lake and a UNESCO Wolrd Heritage site. Under the plan, three dams are to be built: one at the Selenga River, that accounts for some 80% of all water that flows into the lake, and two at its main tributaries – the Eg River and the Orkhon River.

The announcement coincided with the unprecedented decline in the Baikal water level that started in fall of 2014 and continued through 2016.

Last year, Donskoi said Russia may offer Mongolia an electricity discount and lay additional power transmission lines to the country “in such way that electric power supplies will be more beneficial for companies than HPP construction.”.