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Mine number six

Trans-Baikal city Krasnokamensk will regain the title of "uranium capital of Russia"

On the territory of the Trans-Baikal Territory, the territory of rapid development (TOR) begins to work. Over the next ten years, they should implement 15 investment projects for almost 200 billion rubles of investment, create over nine thousand jobs, receive more than 30 billion tax deductions at all levels. Development will receive projects that are of paramount importance for the region. One of these "growth points" is located in the city of Krasnokamensk, which wants to regain the former glory of the "uranium capital of Russia."

Mine number six
Photo: Zabaykalsky kray.rf

Different past

95% of all uranium ore in the country and 5% in the world were once mined in the Krasnokamensk monotown. There, mine work was carried out at 19 uranium and molybdenum-uranium deposits. However, in recent decades, the city-forming enterprise - Priargunsky Industrial Mining and Chemical Association (PIMCU) named after Slavsky - literally breathed incense, over the past five years, the number of employees decreased by four thousand people (44% of the state), and the 2018-year ended with a record-high loss - 4,37 billion rubles.

The profitability of uranium mining in Krasnokamensk has fallen dramatically. This was due not only to the depletion of reserves of deposits and obsolete equipment, but also to the falling demand for nuclear fuel in the world. In the 2014 year, Krasnokamensk, with its slightly more than 50 thousand inhabitants, was included in the government list of single-industry towns with the most difficult socio-economic situation. In 2015, the Ministry of Economic Development rejected an application for participation in a competition for state support, which dealt with the construction of mine No. 6. In the 2016 year, Krasnokamensk received the TOP status, it considered about 20 projects that allowed it to diversify its economy and attract investments, but things went neither shaky, nor roll.

Say what you like, but no small business could get on its feet the dying main production and provide employment to the residents of the city. There were a number of other negative factors. On suspicion of corruption, the arrest of the former CEO of the PIMCU, Alexander Glotov. According to the head of ARMZ Uranium Holding, Vladimir Verkhovtsev, for the image of the enterprise, this became a “hole below the waterline”. To the credit of today's leadership, they did not begin to hush up the scandalous matter - they took all measures to prevent this from affecting the management process and production safety. The head of the region confirmed: today the necessary conclusions have been made, personnel decisions at the enterprise have been made and a “secure, clean system of work” will be created. And the PIMCU itself is now beginning a new stage in its history.

Complicated Present

Indeed, “never say never”: the potential of Krasnokamensk is far from exhausted. The future of this city, the second largest in Transbaikalia after Chita, is associated with the development of two deposits with operational reserves of uranium of about 38 thousand tons - Zherlovoy and Argunsky, as well as with the construction of mine No.6. This was stated by the head of the region Alexander Osipov directly at the construction site. According to him, the work carried out by the PIMCU is even ahead of schedule in a number of positions, “there are no risks that could lead to a missed deadline”. This is facilitated by the joint work of all participants in a large-scale project - from contractors and subcontractors to the regional and federal governments, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Eastern Development, Rosatom Corporation and its mining division of Atomredmetzoloto JSC (ARMZ).

The construction of Mine No. 6 will enable the launch of production by 2022 and the commissioning of almost a third of the total reserves of valuable strategic raw materials. This will extend the activities of the enterprise at least until 2044 year and create jobs for 2,5 thousand people. They plan to mine 3-3,5tys. tons of uranium per year (the mines that are operating now give two to three times less). Up to one billion rubles of tax deductions will go to budgets of all levels for the year. The commissioning of the Zherlovoy and Argun deposits will allow the company to remain profitable for decades, says Viktor Svyatetskiy, the first deputy general director and executive director of the ARMZ uranium holding.

A promising future

According to the press service of ARMZ, a road has already been laid at mine number 6, hydrogeological stations are still being drilled, aquifer characteristics are being studied, sewage treatment plants with a capacity of 1 300 cubic meters per day are being constructed, and the skeleton of auxiliary buildings is being erected. Now construction of filling wells for mines has begun in Krasnokamensk, and in three years they plan to drill 12 - each to a depth of 450-550 running meters. The local airport and access roads to the mines will be reconstructed.

“All my actions are aimed at timely financing,” says the head of the region.

While we are talking about 1,9 billion rubles to continue construction during this year, 960 million rubles arrived at the end of 2018. Investment plans related to the construction of mine No. 6 are of great importance - this project will provide the nuclear industry of Russia with strategically important raw materials. But the fate of the mine number 6 was difficult. The project was either opened, then frozen, then called hopeless, then again gave him a chance.

The deputy from Transbaikalia in the State Duma Nikolai Govorin even appealed to the Minister of Finance of Russia Anton Siluanov with a request to personally take control of the allocation of funds for construction. As it turned out, such allocations were not provided for in the draft federal budget for the 2019 year and the planning period for the 2020 and 2021 years. Additional urgent measures were required to solve the problems. After last year’s visit to Transbaikalia, Speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko discussed the project for creating a mine in the Senate. As a result, the Federation Council approved the amendments to allocate the same 2018 million in the 960 year to the mine, the same amount in 2019 and 500 million in the 2020 year.

The updated production will use the most modern mining mining equipment. For its release, ARMZ Mining Machines LLC was created. This is a joint project of ARMZ and its French partners, Aramine, the agreement on which was signed in April this year. In this case, the equipment will have the Russian brand ARGO. Narrow-capture battery-powered loading and delivery machines that are used in uranium mining will be produced at the Slavsky PPHC mechanical and repair plant. The production of joint products is carried out according to the principle of localization of production: partners plan to gradually commission different sections - on some they will make the chassis, on the other batteries and other spare parts or components.

Service centers will also appear. Compared to imported, localized products will be cheaper by more than 20%. According to Igor Semenov, Executive Director of ARMZ Mining Machines, the cost of its production and operation is also 10-15% lower than its foreign counterparts. The company will also produce mine dump trucks and other necessary equipment. And self-propelled loading and delivery vehicles with its brand in operation can be seen next year. They have already been tested in France and at mine No. 1 of the PIMCU.

For Krasnokamensk, the mine construction project No.6 is an opportunity for a normal life for more than 50 thousand people, 18 thousand of which are pensioners. Without this production, experts say, a city that has just celebrated its 50 anniversary would simply have to be resettled, since the reserves of the remaining mines are close to depletion and people would be left without work. Now, regional authorities say, priority will be given to social issues and the improvement of Krasnokamensk. The boarding school for students in cadet classes and a kindergarten will be repaired, sports grounds will be built. Tidy the streets. The work will be carried out as part of the social development plan of the centers of economic growth. As the head of the region explains, all Far Eastern development mechanisms will be maximally distributed in Krasnokamensk and the eponymous district in order to diversify its economy and improve the quality of life of people.

“The development of the city and the PIMCU remains one of the most important for me,” said Alexander Osipov, who made his first working trip in the rank of head of Transbaikalia to Krasnokamensk.

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