The Ministry of Ecology of the Chelyabinsk Region may be forced to terminate a billion-dollar concession agreement with Citymatic, controlled by businessman Sergei Kotlyarenko, who is considered a man of the head of VEB.RF, Igor Shuvalov. We are talking about the project for the construction of a waste sorting complex and a landfill for municipal solid waste (MSW) in Magnitogorsk, which has been implemented for almost seven years. According to public figures, following the results of work in 2022, the company completely failed in its obligations for high-quality waste sorting. They back up their words with information from the regional operator Center for Communal Services (CCS), according to which the sample percentage at Citymatica facilities turned out to be almost four times lower than that declared at the conclusion of the concession. At the same time, experts emphasize that this point was a key one and affects not only the achievement of the targets of the national project “Ecology”, but also the feasibility of investments, as well as the cost of garbage collection services. Now local ecologists are preparing an appeal addressed to the governor of the Chelyabinsk region Alexei Teksler and declare their readiness to “go to the end” – up to the termination of the concession in court. According to activists, such a scenario is not excluded, since at the moment the Ministry of Ecology, according to industry representatives, is “too loyal to Citymatic”, which means that serious violations can once again be ignored.
The regional operator for the treatment of MSW LLC TsKS provided the public with data for 2022 on the operation of a new waste sorting complex in Magnitogorsk, which, under the concession, was built by Citimatic JSC (controlled by businessman Sergey Kotlyarenko, whom the media calls the person of the head of VEB.RF Igor Shuvalov) . As follows from the response to the request of the Public Ecological Inspectorate of the city, the company, apparently, violated the terms of the concession in terms of the quality of the sample of recyclables. Thus, the report states that since the beginning of the operation of the enterprise, on July 1, 2022, the percentage of selected secondary resources amounted to only 5.67%.
To clarify, a large concession agreement for the construction of a waste sorting complex with a capacity of 200 thousand tons and a MSW landfill in Magnitogorsk was concluded with Citymatic (formerly JSC Waste Management) back in 2015, but active construction began only a few years later. The cost of the project amounted to just over 1 billion rubles, and almost 300 million rubles were accounted for by interest on the loan. At the same time, it was stated in the parameters of the agreement that the concessionaire undertakes to extract at least 20% of useful fractions from garbage and send only 80% of the “tails” to landfill.
In turn, the Ministry of Ecology of the Chelyabinsk Region guaranteed the company the loading of the new complex by at least 80%, otherwise, as follows from the documents, the budget will be forced to compensate the company for lost revenue. In this regard, it was expected that the Citimatica facility should receive about 163 thousand tons of waste annually. However, based on the results of work in 2022, it turned out that the concessionaire did not even come close to the target indicators of the agreement.
As one of the members of the public environmental inspectorate told Pravda UrFO, now they, together with representatives of the business community, plan to send an appeal to the governor of the Chelyabinsk region Alexei Teksler and convey the problem to the head of the region.
“We officially requested information from the CCC in December last year. The Regoperator quickly provided it and, as it turned out, Citymatic’s performance indicators fundamentally do not correspond to the terms of the concession agreement. <...> We plan to send an appeal to the governor about the concessionaire’s failure to fulfill the conditions and are considering the possibility of challenging the agreement in court. Based, among other things, on these indicators, the cost of the project was built and tariff decisions were made,” the public inspector explained.
Pravda UrFO sent official requests to clarify the reasons for the violation of the concession terms and their consequences in the Ministry of Ecology of the Chelyabinsk Region and Citymatic, but at the time of publication there was no response.
Meanwhile, experts pay attention to another aspect – the volume of waste received at the Citymatika facility. As indicated in the CKS report, the enterprise accepted only 50.9 thousand tons of MSW with a capacity of 200 thousand tons.
This could be due to two different factors. As industry experts argue, firstly, the actual volume of waste generation in the Magnitogorsk cluster may be significantly lower than the figure reflected in the territorial scheme. Then we can conclude that an expensive facility with a significantly overestimated capacity was probably built in the city.
The second option concerns the performance of the complex itself. Earlier, the publication told in detail that market participants had doubts about the compliance of the real waste sorting capacity with the parameters stated in the project. Industry representatives assumed that Citimatic’s equipment could actually handle only 100,000 tons of MSW per year, which is in line with the company’s 2022 figure.