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“Without state assistance, our investments would be half as much”
Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kolmar Group LLC, Anna Tsivileva, shared her impressions of the Eastern Economic Forum
- Anna E., how do you assess the outcome of the Eastern Economic Forum?
- The value of this forum, in my opinion, is very great for the development of the Far East. Today it is a platform for a strategic dialogue with the APEC countries, which attracts investment and innovation to the region, develops industrial and social infrastructure. The key event of the forum was the plenary session "The Far East: expanding the boundaries of opportunities" with the participation of the heads of the five states, where they discussed interaction formats based on trust and equality.
The huge contribution of the Eastern Economic Forum, of course, to the development of Russian-Chinese relations, the expansion of bilateral trade and economic cooperation, and an increase in the level of strategic interaction between the two countries in various fields. This is very important for our company - we are implementing three major investment projects for the extraction, processing and transportation of coal in the Far East, and the main consumers are the largest metallurgical companies from the Asia-Pacific countries.
- Tell us about the agreements that the company "Colmar" concluded on the forum.
- We signed two agreements. One of them is with Baosteel, the world's largest metallurgical company, on long-term cooperation and the supply of our concentrate to the plants of this company. Approximately 60% of our exports accounted for Baosteel, we have been cooperating for two years now.
The second agreement we signed on the WEF is a trilateral agreement between the management of our company, the government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Agency for Attracting Human Capital. It concerns the issues of attracting personnel to our company. Now 3 is working for thousands of people, but in two years the number of employees will increase to 9 thousand. The average age of employees coming to us from all over the country is 39 years. These are people with families, with children.
This means that we need to think about the social infrastructure for a huge number of people - for us this is the primary task. For several days at the forum, we were actively working with government and business representatives, Russian and foreign partners. We actively participated in business sessions where issues that arise before companies developing business in the Far East were discussed, and we proposed specific mechanisms for their solution.
- For the second year in a row, mas-wrestling - the national Yakut sport - was included in the WEF sports program. As far as it is known, it was Colmar that contributed to its popularization?
- Yes, we hold tournaments in the Yakut traditional sport. At the WEF this year the championship was held at the international level. This year we brought together athletes from 24 countries in the heavyweight category, such as New Zealand, USA and Canada, of course, were multi-athletes from Asia. It was nice to see that, despite international tensions, athletes came from Ukraine. “Colmar” is the general partner, organizer and sponsor of this tournament, and I am pleased that there was a truly sporty, friendly atmosphere at the competitions.
WITH GRAPHICS AHEAD - Can you tell us about the new plans of “Kolmar”?
- The company develops according to the strategy prescribed before 2021. This year we launched a processing plant with a capacity of 6 mln. Tons at Denisovsky GOK and built the Denisovskaya Vostochnaya mine.
In addition, Inaglinsky GOK is under construction. A factory with a capacity of 2 mln. Tons has already been built there. The construction of an Inaglinskaya-2 concentrator with a capacity of 12 mln. Tons and an Inaglinskaya mine, and also a capacity of 12 mln. Tons has been started. These facilities should be fully commissioned before 2021. Everything is going according to plan and even with some advance.
The first phase of our own port in the Khabarovsk Territory will be launched in 2019, the transshipment volume will be 12 mln. Tons. The second phase, for another 12 mln. Tons, will be launched in 2023. But, perhaps, the second stage will be launched earlier than this date. So far, we are exporting coal through other ports of Primorye and the Khabarovsk Territory.
- Part of your strategy is complete coal enrichment. Does it pay off?
- Indeed, the strategy of our company is to enrich all the coal we sell, and it justified itself, because the price of enriched coal is three times higher than that of raw coal. At the same time, the industrial product, which remains after enrichment, is also in demand, and energy companies willingly take it. For enrichment, we use modern technologies that allow us to produce concentrate with certain indicators required by our customers.
Our coal is in demand, it has good performance, it is very interesting for metallurgists. To do this, we hold presentations, participate in international exhibitions and conferences, often visit production sites of metallurgists. We are actively working with countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, making trial deliveries to India. For the time being, the Indian market is closed for us because of expensive freight for small vessels. But with the opening of our own port, we will enter this market too. The main thing that helps to successfully conduct difficult international negotiations is the reputation of a reliable supplier who faithfully fulfills contractual obligations.
- How to ensure reliability?
- Through the creation of a full-cycle company, which we implemented. We ourselves are exploring coal, we mine it, we enrich it. Each GOK has quality control laboratories. We have created our own transport company - by the new year we will receive the first batch of our own gondola cars.
Today, the issue of railway capacity is very relevant for many enterprises of the Far East. At the same time, we have an advantage, for example, over companies that operate in Kuzbass: we can use two branches, both BAM and Transsib. When we complete our own port, our competitive advantages will increase. This will make it possible to minimize possible risks with violation of logistics.
- To what extent are environmental issues resolved during the construction of your port?
- Before construction, we studied the best world practices. Conducting tenders, we chose the best equipment, mainly Japanese or German. We will use closed coal handling and special dust absorption systems with water barriers that limit the spread of dust into the environment. The port will be one of the safest in the world, in terms of power it will become one of the five largest ports in Russia. The total transshipment capacity will reach 24 million tons of coal per year.
- In addition to the core business, you started to develop projects in the field of tourism. What will it give you?
- The idea to go in for tourism came after, when we, while on vacation, traveled along the Lena River to Lena Pillars, the impressions were unforgettable! When I told this to colleagues and our partners, including foreign ones, they also wanted to see these picturesque places. Since Russia is famous for its nature and hospitality, and Yakutia is one of the most beautiful places of our country with the indigenous people of Sakha, I would like to introduce as many people as possible to this amazing region. If we talk about foreigners, they are very interested in our huge country, especially such a territory as Siberia, for them this is a kind of exotic.
For us, of course, this is not a business project. But my task as an employer who leads the largest investment project in the Far East is to draw people's attention to the tourism opportunities of our region, to make the region attractive and famous.
Of course, there are many problems, such as expensive airline tickets. We have agreed with the government of Yakutia that we will be able to use subsidized fares when forming the charter flight. So it will be possible to make direct flights, such as Tokyo - Yakutsk, Seoul - Yakutsk, Beijing - Yakutsk, Moscow - Yakutsk. Those who wish will be, we are sure. Tourism development is a financial flow for the development of the region. And we, as a company operating in Yakutia, are interested in the region developing.
SUCCESS TRAINING SUCCESS - Why, in your opinion, not all companies manage to work in the Far East?
- The Far East is a harsh land. For example, in Southern Yakutia, where we work, more than a month there are frosts with temperatures below minus 50 degrees. Technique refuses to work, but people still go and work. Weak infrastructure, problems with transportation, long distances. All this is alarming and frightening.
But at the same time, the Far East is a land with enormous resources. Coal, gold, iron ore, diamonds, and mineral fertilizers are enormous prospects. And I would like to advise entrepreneurs not to “get ready”, but to come. We are showing by example that it is really possible to develop a business here.
There is a rule: success attracts success, and it really works. Partners come to us who are frightened by difficulties with project management, difficulties with adaptation in the Far East. Therefore, they ask us to become a conductor who has already passed this path and has some experience.
- What is your contribution to the development of social infrastructure?
- We pay great attention to this. When you work in the region, you begin to dive into the problems of the people who live there, and a sincere desire arises to help them. In general, we can invest in production as much as necessary, but if there are no people who will work in the enterprise, this makes no sense.
We do everything to make life in Neryungri comfortable. Today, the company has a serious social burden for the development of the region, and for the social support of its employees.
- How would you rate on a ten-point scale the state's contribution to the development of social infrastructure?
- Seven. The state has really become more active, and it sincerely wants to develop the Far East. I can say for sure: they hear and help us. Yes, there are mistakes, but the one who does nothing is not mistaken. If the state had not joined in the solution of social problems in due time, then the volume of our investments would be at least two times less. We believe that the Far East will rise and develop in the near future.
Published in the journal "Economics of the Far East" You can subscribe to the magazine on the portal investvostok.ru