Engineering & Mining Journal

MAR 2019

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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MINING IN RUSSIA 40 E&MJ • MARCH 2019 Copper, Nickel on the Rise The absence of real sanctions is a good sign for all Russian mining companies and this encourages them to move on with their expansions projects. For example, Norilsk Nickel has recent- ly unveiled plans to boost the output over the next five years to catch up with the expected boom in demand from electric vehicle makers, Norilsk Nickel CEO and top shareholder Potanin said in late 2018. For this purpose, the company recently ap- proved a new comprehensive investment strategy up to 2025, with the investment of as much as $11.5 billion. The company wants to spend this money on the Talnakh and South Clus- ter growth projects, both located in the Russian part of the Arctic. The invest- ments would increase nickel production from 210,000 mt in 2017 to 240,000 mt in 2025 and copper production from 398,000 mt in 2017 to more than 460,000 mt in 2025, the company said in a statement in November. "We expect that the metal ores produc- tion should grow by nearly 50% by 2023 to 2024," Potanin said, speaking at a meet- ing with President Putin in Kremlin on De- cember 20. "This would secure the growth in metals production by 20% to 25% as compared to the current level. In 2018, we also nearly achieved a record-break- ing palladium and platinum production, which are in high demand on the market, since everybody adopts stricter ecological requirements and, respectively, more and more global electric finished vehicle man- ufacturers require more palladium and platinum to produce air-cleaning catalyst elements," Potanin added. Norilsk Nickel is not the only one that plans to take advantage from the rising demand for nonferrous metals from the electric cars industry. In 2018, the Rus- sian Copper Co. (RCC) also announced plans to invest Rub45 billion ($750 million) into the further expansion of the Mikheevsky Mining and Processing Works, including in boosting metal ore production at the Kulikovsky field in Che- lyabinsk Oblast, Russia. Within the recent expansion program, RCC increased pro- duction at the mine from 18 million mt of ore in 2014, to 27 million mt in 2017. The new expansion project would let the company increase the cathode copper production by 100,000 mt, as compared to the current level, plus start manufac- turing 25,000 mt of nickel sulphate and 350 mt of cobalt per year. The expansion is slated to be completed in 2021, and almost the entire additional production quantities should be exported, the com- pany told Russian analytical agency Rus- sian Business Consulting. Earlier, RCC said it planned to start mining metal ores not only on the Ku- likovsky field in Cheliabynsk Oblast, but also in the Belininsky field in the Altai Krai. So far, no additional details have been re- vealed on that project. The overall nickel resources of Belininsky field are estimated at 498,000 mt, while at Kulikovsky field at 441,400 mt, according to the data from the Joint Ore Reserves Committee. For several years, RCC was also negotiat- ing the development of the Udokan copper deposit jointly with Russian company USM Holdings. With 26 million mt of copper, this is the biggest copper deposit in Russia and the third biggest in the world. The invest- ment cost of the project remains unknown, but speaking in late 2018, Ivan Streshin- sky, general director of USM Management, said the project would be developed without the participation of RCC. The first copper should be mined at the deposit in 2021. The construction is slated to begin in 2019, Streshinsky said. Earlier, Russian state-owned bank VTB agreed to invest Rub10 billion ($130 million) into the project in exchange for a 10% stake. To develop the Udokan copper deposit, USM Holdings has established a new subsidi- ary Baikal Mining Co. LLC. This company runs a 4-mt/h pilot project in the field. When the full-designed production per- formance is reached, the company would mine 48 million mt/y of copper ore, ac- cording to the official information. "If compared to any developed copper deposit in the world, Udokan is unique be- cause it contains sulphide, oxidized and mixed ores," said Igor Temnikov, general director of Baikal Mining Co. "The mining process is unusually complicated, since the ores can be neither extracted sepa- rately, nor mechanically separated after mining, so the Baikal Mining Co., in col- laboration with Russian and international research centers, had to create and patent a unique technology for extracting and pro- cessing ores of the Udokan deposit." The pilot operation on the field was necessary in order to try this technology and confirm its sufficient effectiveness, according to Temnikov. Similar expansion plans are also har- bored by the Bashkir Copper Co. The com- pany mined 879,000 mt of copper ores in 2018, but this figure is set to gradually increase with the launching of the new un- derground mines at the Jubileynoe depos- A hydraulic excavator loads ore into a haul truck at the Verhne Mencheke mine (zinc, copper and silver) in the Republic of Sakha. Rusal increases production at Timan Bauxite as U.S. government steps down with sanctions.

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