Irkutsk
Ulan-Ude

Blagoveshchensk
Chita
Yakutsk

Birobidzhan
Vladivostok
Khabarovsk

Magadan
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Anadyr
Petropavlovsk-
Kamchatsky
Moscow

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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

Transbaikalia will receive
Photo: https://www.bgk-udokan.ru/

In the Trans-Baikal Territory, the implementation of the “project of the century” - the development of the Udokan copper deposit - has begun. It is located 700 kilometers northeast of Chita near the Novaya Chara station; it was discovered 70 years ago, but it was still waiting in the wings. In Russia, this deposit is the largest, in the world - the third among undeveloped ones (its reserves according to the Russian classification are estimated at 20,1 million tons of copper, resource potential - 27,3 million tons). Now, for the construction of a powerful modern mining and metallurgical plant (MMC) for the production of cathode copper and copper concentrate, an open mine and all the necessary infrastructure on Udokan, there are not only advanced technologies, but, most importantly, money. Very big. Both private and public. 

The total project budget is about $ 3 billion (over 180 billion rubles at the current exchange rate). A 1,79-year syndicated loan agreement for the development of the Udokan field in the amount of $ 12 billion was recently signed by Gazprombank, VEB.RF, Sberbank and the operator of the field development - Baikalskaya Gornaya Kompaniya LLC, a member of the USM diversified group of companies. Shareholders of BGK have already invested more than $ 870 million in Udokan for exploration, design and preparatory work, which began in 2019. 

Now construction is entering the main stage and is proceeding quite intensively. In the middle of next year, the supply and installation of equipment will begin - BGK has already signed a contract for 250 million euros with the well-known Finnish company Outoteс. The first stage of the plant is planned to be put into operation in 2022 - for such a large-scale construction it is more than a short time. At the first stage, the project provides for 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 capacities of the MMC are put into operation, the volume of copper ore production should triple and then quadruple. 

The development of the Udokan deposit is a project that is designed to fulfill the role of an "economic locomotive" for Transbaikalia, to promote the development of key sectors of the regional economy and improve the state of the social sphere. This was especially 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 a high-tech production of cathode copper. The plant will provide the Trans-Baikal Territory with about two thousand new jobs, and taking into account related industries - much more. Power supply lines will also be reconstructed, the local airport will be updated, and roads will be built. "In the region, let's face it, the situation is very difficult, and such large projects are very much needed to create modern jobs, change the structure of employment and develop the economy of the region," 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. Serious development of social infrastructure is planned, including the transport accessibility of remote areas of the region. All this will undoubtedly affect the improvement of the quality of life of the 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 7700st century are required. They have already been developed here, patented and tested in semi-industrial tests. Prepared for use in production. New mining methods have aroused great interest among foreign 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 used both for the domestic 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 are growing. It is expected that by the time the plant is put into operation, foreign consumers will pay at least $ 750 per ton of this metal. Experts also calculated: in addition to the main profit from copper mining, the new plant and related industries will provide budgets of all levels with more than XNUMX billion rubles in additional tax revenues over two decades. 

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. 
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