February 2, 2009 / 6:38 AM / 10 years ago

Uralkali probe ends, miner to pay damages - paper

MOSCOW, Feb 2 (Reuters) - A probe into the collapse of a mine operated by Russian potash miner Uralkali (URKA.MM) is over and the damages, yet to be imposed, are likely to be at least 20 billion roubles ($564.8 million), Vedomosti said on Monday.

Citing a source with access to the report on the accident, the paper said the company would pay compensation in line with the cost of dealing with the accident, in which Uralkali’s Mine 1 flooded and opened up a giant sinkhole.

The report listed 2.3 billion roubles spent resettling residents of the nearby town of Berezniki, Vedomosti said. The company was not immediately available for comments.

It quoted a government sources as saying additional costs included a 53 kilometre rail bypass and the cost of moving some utilities operated by Russian power generator TGK-9, for another 17.9 billion roubles.

Uralkali’s shareholders feared the potash miner faced a state asset grab when the probe was unexpectedly re-opened last year.

The company has been mentioned as a possible player in a metals mega-merger discussed by the owners of some of Russia’s mining giants as a way to consolidate the industry and clear some of their debts to government banks by granting the state a stake.

But analysts say the potash miner is a poor fit with the metals companies and is unlikely to join any merger. ($1=35.41 Rouble) (Reporting by Melissa Akin, editing by Erica Billingham)

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