The major Russian mining projects you need to know about


As we continue to edge closer to 2020, these are the four big players in the Russian mining game that you should be keeping an eye on in the months to come.

These are the four in the Russian mining game that you should be keeping an eye on in the months to come. 

As the largest country in terms of geographical area, it should come as no surprise that Russia is the location of some of the largest mineral reserves in the world. As far as mining goes, for Russia it is an industry that accounts for a significant share of the country’s gross domestic product and exports.

While oil & gas, which is the largest industry for Russia, are primarily state-owned, the mining industry is mainly privately-owned. Here, we take a look at some of the major mining projects and companies in Russian that should be on your radar. 

The Russian mining projects to watch

Norilsk Nickel cluster projects


Headquartered in Moscow, Norisk Nickel operates mines in five countries including Russia, Botswana, Australia, South Africa and Finland. It is one of the world’s leading producers of nickel and refined nickel, while also producing platinum metals – as much as half of the world’s supply of palladium. 

As well as nickel, palladium, platinum and copper, NorNickel also produces various by-products including cobalt, chronium, rhodium, silver, gold and iridium. In October 2019 it was reported that the company’s total nickel production for the quarter stood at 57,000 tonnes, which is a rise of 5.5% year on year. 

The company’s output will be greatly boosted soon by two projects worth a collective $1.4bn.
 
The first is the expansion of the company’s Talnakh Concentrator, also known as Talnakh Phase 3 or TOF-3. TOF-3 aims to increase the concentrator’s throughput capacity from 10 to 18m tons annually, as well as see installation of efficient enrichment technology. All the ore mined at the Talnakh deposit would be processed here. Project commissioning kicks off in 2023.

South Cluster will develop further the Norilsk-1 deposit where NorNickel draws a considerable share of its resources. Here, ore mining capacity, with the installation of modern infrastructure and technology, will reach 9m tons annually by 2027. Stripping works launched in 2019, while the mine rap-up is slated to begin by 2022 at the latest.

Aikhal


Located in Sakha (Yakutia), Aikhal is the world’s biggest diamond mine. With deposits including the Jubilee Pipe, Aikhal Pipe, Komsomolskaya Pipe and Zaria Pipe, Aikhal is estimated to contain 175.56m carats of proven and probable reserves. 

The Aikhal Pipe, owned and operated by the mining and processing division of Alrosa, was mined through open-pit methods until 1997 before switching to underground mining using the cut-and-fill mining method. 

Now, the largest diamond mine worldwide has been thrown a new lifeline. Alrosa announced in April 2019 it will be digging a 300-metre underground extension here. According to Russia’s chief miner, this will add a further 20m carats to Aikhal’s raw material base.

Udokan


With total reserves reported to be 26.7m tonnes of copper, Udokan is said to be one of the biggest untapped deposits in the word.
 
In June of 2019, Outotec signed a contract with Baikal Mining Company for the design and delivery of a greenfield copper concentrator and hydrometallurgical plant as part of Udokan, which will be located in the Russian Far East. 

The new metallurgical complex is expected to operate with the annual capacity of 12 million tonnes of ore and producing 130,000 tonnes of copper as high-grade sulphide concentrate and as cathodes. Outotec's main deliveries are expected to take place in 2020.

"Udokan is the world's third largest known undeveloped copper deposit. We are extremely pleased about being selected as a technology partner in this significant project. Our proven technologies and services enable Baikal Mining Company to develop their operations in a sustainable way and get the best value from their assets," says Markku Teräsvasara, CEO of Outotec.

"As a result of years of research, together with leading Russian and international engineering companies, we have developed a unique flowsheet for processing the Udokan copper deposit. With Outotec's expertise and technologies we can automate the processes to the maximum extent," says Valery Kazikayev Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Baikal Mining Company.

Chulbatkan


Kinross Gold Company has recently announced an agreement with N-Mining Limited to acquire the high-quality, heap leach development project of Chulbatkan for a total fixed consideration of US$283m. 

“Chulbatkan is an exciting high-quality development project with significant upside potential and low relative execution risk located in a country where we have had extensive experience and success, and maintain a strategic and competitive operating advantage,” said J. Paul Rollinson, President and Chief Executive Officer. “This acquisition is an excellent fit for Kinross as it enables us to leverage our expertise as a world-class cold climate heap leach operator."

With a large estimated mineral resource, Chulbatkan has the potential to be a significant low-cost, low-strip, high-return operation that will strengthen our longer-term production and cash-flow profile. It is an excellent complement to our existing operations at Kupol and Dvoinoye, both of which remain prospective in their own right.”

Chulbatkan sits in an area already popular with gold miners, Khabarovsk. Ten mines are currently under operation here, which is the fourth largest gold producing region in Russia. 

Kinross’ latest development will add approximately 3.9m ounces of reserves under the Canadian miner’s control. The company’s license is valid until 2037.

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