Interview with Peter Hambro

Peter Hambro, the head of Peter Hambro Mining – the largest foreign gold miner in Russia, commented on the diplomatic spat between Russia and the UK and its impact on business ties between the two countries.

Russia Today: With the diplomatic spat between Russia and the United Kingdom, how much are commercial ties being affected?

P.H.: I have been coming here since 1979. We had crazy days of being advised by the British Secret Service what to do and what not to do when you came to Russia. Then we went through very happy days and now we are back to less happy days. But I think these things are like a pendular swing, so we just have to be careful.

RT: With your interests in Russia, do you feel that the business climate in Russia is stable?

P.H.: As a place to do business, I think it is very good. The rule of law has become much clearer under the present administration. Our company was cleared of the investigations by Rosprirodnadzor – along with three other companies – of all the allegations of artificially inflating our reserves and resources. So a lot of the anxieties have gone away, from my point of view.

RT: Do you feel confident that that kind of issue is not going to be around the corner at any moment?

P.H.: I have a great friend in New York who has a big sign behind his desk that says, “When the legislature is in session, no man is safe”. You can’t tell what may happen but at the moment I don’t see that this particular problem is likely to resurface. I think, we have managed to slay that particular ghost.

RT: Analysts say that gold production in Russia suffers because it is so difficult, expensive, and time-consuming to gain the exploration and exploitation licenses. Do you agree with that assessment and do you feel particularly discriminated against as a non-Russian company?

P.H.: Not at all. I mean gold is expensive to produce. Exploration is far harder than to get licences. There is a perfectly well-founded system where you can provoke a tender or an option for licences. And there is competition for such licences. And you must above all abide by its terms. But that’s a perfectly reasonable way of doing things and it prevents carpet baggers coming in from grabbing assets and sitting on them and not producing from them. But the system works very well.