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Transbaikalia will receive a "copper" locomotive
The development of the Udokan field will give impetus to the development of the entire economy of Transbaikalia
In the Trans-Baikal Territory, a “project of the century” began to be implemented closely - the development of the Udokan copper deposit. It is located in 700 kilometers northeast of Chita, near the station Novaya Chara, 70 was discovered years ago, but so far it has been waiting for its hour. In Russia, this deposit is the largest, in the world - the third in a row among the undeveloped (its reserves according to the Russian classification are estimated at 20,1 million tons of copper, the resource potential - 27,3 million tons). Now, for the construction of a powerful modern mining and metallurgical plant (UHMC) for the production of cathode copper and copper concentrate, an open-pit mine and all the necessary infrastructure in Udokan, there is not only advanced technology, but most importantly, money. Very considerable. Both private and public.
The total budget of the project is about 3 billion dollars (over 180 billion rubles at the current exchange rate). The agreement on the syndicated loan for the development of the Udokan field in the amount of 1,79 billion dollars for 12 was recently signed by Gazprombank, VEB.RF, Sberbank and the operator of the field development - Baikal Mining Company LLC, a member of the diversified USM group of companies. Shareholders of BGK have already invested more than 870 million dollars in Udokan for exploration, design and preparatory work, which were started in 2019.
Now the construction enters the main stage and is quite intensive. In the middle of next year, the delivery and installation of equipment will begin - BGK has already signed a contract for 250 million euros with the well-known Finnish company Outotec. The first stage of the plant is planned to be commissioned already in 2022 year - for such a large-scale construction, this is more than a short time. At the first stage, the project envisages the extraction of 12 million tons of copper ore per year and the production of 125 thousand tons of pure cathode copper, as well as a significant amount of associated silver. In the future, when new production facilities of the MMC are commissioned, the volume of copper ore production should increase threefold, and then four times.
The development of the Udokan field is a project that is designed to fulfill the role of an “economic locomotive” for Transbaikalia, promote the development of key sectors of the regional economy and improve the state of the social sphere. This was particularly noted by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, speaking at a meeting of the supervisory board of VEB.RF. As the head of government explained, the project involves the construction of infrastructure for the extraction and processing of ore into concentrate, the creation of high-tech copper cathode production. The plant will give about 2,000 new jobs to the Trans-Baikal Territory, and taking into account related industries - much more. Power supply lines will also be reconstructed, the local airport will be updated, roads will be built. “In the region, let's face it, the situation is very difficult, and large projects of this kind are very necessary for modern workplaces to arise there, the structure of employment to change and the economy of the region to develop,” the Prime Minister said.
“We are thinking about how to bring the timing of the launch of this project, because we are interested in it. We are looking at what mechanisms of development of the Far East we can apply here, ”says the Acting Governor of Transbaikalia, Alexander Osipov.
He considers the transport component to be an especially important part of the development of Udokan. In addition to BAM, which takes place in 30 km from the village, there is no other way. The regional administration, together with the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation and the MMC, is currently modernizing the Chara airport - the runway will be lengthened and reconstructed, and an airport terminal will be built. But those who will build the plant and work on it need not only to fly here, but also to live. With families, with children. Therefore, Alexander Osipov explains, a new school and a central regional hospital will be built in Novaya Chara, kindergartens and other social institutions will be repaired. There are programs for training staff and vocational guidance for graduates of schools and colleges.
“The development of the Udokan copper deposit is a big step forward, and not only from an economic point of view. A serious development of social infrastructure is planned, including concerning the transport accessibility of remote territories of the region. All this will certainly affect the quality of life of Trans-Baikal people, ”concludes the acting governor.
The copper deposit in Udokan is unique in many of its characteristics. To extract pure metal from local ores, high technologies of the 21st century are required. They have already been developed here, patented and tested on semi-industrial trials. Preparing for use in production. New mining methods have aroused great interest among overseas colleagues from China, Finland and other countries. According to Igor Temnikov, Technical Director of the MMC, the plant’s products will meet the most stringent standards and requirements of both the Russian and international markets. Copper from Udokan will be intended both for the internal needs of Russia and for export, primarily to China, Japan, South Korea and other countries of Southeast Asia. The conjuncture of the world copper market is quite favorable for us, the demand and prices on it are growing. It is expected that by the time the plant is put into operation, foreign consumers will pay at least 7700 dollars for a ton of this metal. Experts also calculated: in addition to the main profit from copper mining, the new plant and related production for two decades will provide budgets of all levels more than 750 billion rubles in the form of additional tax revenues.Investing in the mining industry is always a matter of years and decades ahead. The main condition for the investment to give a return is the stability of economic development, consistency in the implementation of all plans and agreements, the joint coordinated work of the regions and the center, business and government structures. For Transbaikalia with its long-standing problems and a great desire to finally solve them, this approach is the only one possible.