YAKUTSK, January 9. /TASS/. Yakutia’s authorities will cooperate with their Chinese partners in creating a single operator dealing with the collection, processing and export of mammoth ivory in the Russian region, Anton Safronov, the Yakutian minister of investment development, told TASS on Tuesday.
"A single operator for collecting, primary processing and exporting raw materials will be created. This will make it possible to influence the market and pricing. In particular, Yakutian authorities envision the creation of a Sino-Russian company with a logistical and production facility in Yakutsk costing roughly 1.3 bln rubles ($22.8 mln)," the minister said. Corresponding talks were held with companies from China, the primary destination for up to 90% of produced mammoth tusks, he noted.
According to Safronov, setting up a single operator will make it possible to squeeze out the shadow market, currently estimated at 30-40 tonnes and accounting for up to 30% of annual production. "Industry [mammoth tusks gathering] regulation and centralizing measures we plan to undertake will enable boosting annual production from 60-70 tonnes to 90-100 tonnes or by 20-30%, according to expert estimates," the minister explained. Regional authorities will pay special attention to creating new jobs and registering sole entrepreneurs in Arctic districts of the region, where mammoth ivory production is concentrated, Safronov pointed out.
The decline in procurement prices for mammoth tusks is the chief dilemma now, the official noted. "Prices are at their lowest right now. Tremendous numbers of sellers are on the market, including shadow businesses, which lead to dumping," Safronov noted. The market price for a 50-kg mammoth tusk currently goes for about $15,000. Up to 50 tonnes are produced annually in the Russian Arctic.