Russia plans to significantly increase graphite production
Russia plans to significantly increase the volume of graphite production during the next several years, which is expected to take place through the development of some of the country’s largest graphite fields.
So far, the majority of Russian demand for graphite has been met by the supplies from China, however there is a possibility that such a situation will change already in the coming years.
According to estimates of Rosatom, Russia’s state monopoly in the field of nuclear energy, at present the Russian market of isostatic graphite remains very small and does not exceed 1,000 tonnes, in volume terms. Still analysts predict bright future to the market, as in recent years the demand for graphite both in the Russian and global markets has significantly increased.
Russia has rich reserves of graphite of high grade (80-82%), which are estimated at more than 9 million tonnes. According to estimates of the Russian Ministry of Energy, the development of the country’s largest graphite fields will not only allow to fully meet the domestic demand for the metal, but also to start it exports to abroad.
During the Soviet times the majority of graphite production in the USSR took place at the capacities of Taigynsky graphite plant in the Chelyabinsk Region, which was built on the basis of Taigynsky graphite field and specialized on the production of crucible, elemental and pencil graphite, however since the collapse of the USSR, the volumes of production have significantly declined.
According to state plans, the majority of Russian graphite will be produced on the basis of the Soyaznoey field, which is currently in the world’s top five graphite fields and which current graphite reserves are estimated at 116 million tonnes of ore.
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The field is located in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, an autonomous oblast in the Russian Far East, bordering with Khabarovsk Krai and Amur Oblast of Russia and with Heilongjiang province of China.
At present the Soyaznoey field accounts for 50% of all Russian graphite reserves.
According to state plans, the development of the field will be started already during the next several years, while the project will be implemented by Donkarb Graphite, one of Russia’s leading companies in the field of graphite production, which is part of ENERGOPROM Group, one of Russia’s leading manufacturers of electrode, cathode and other graphite and carbon-based products.
Under the terms of the project, a new mining and processing plant will be established on the basis of the field and will have the capacity to produce up to 40,000 tonnes of graphite per year. The new facility is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2017. At the initial stage the company plans to focus on the development of the Topolihinsky area of the field. The project will create more than 300 new jobs.
At the same time, in addition to Soyaznoey, the company plans to establish production of high-purity graphite with the density of 1.80 grams per cubic centimeter in the Chelyabinsk region. The volume of investments in the project at the initial stage is estimated at RUB 500 million (US$10 million) with a possibility of a significant increase during the next several years. The new production is scheduled for the commissioning for 2018-2019, while its production volumes are not disclosed.
According to plans of Donkarb Graphite, successful implementation of the projects will allow it to control about 50% of the Russian graphite market.
At the same time, in addition to Donkarb Graphite, about its plans to significantly increase graphite production has been recently announced by some other leading Russian graphite producers, and in particular the Taigynsky graphite plant and JSC “Krasnoyarskgrafit”.
It is planned that the majority of graphite will be supplied for the needs of the Russian aerospace, power engineering, electronics and defense industry.
According to Russian Ministry of Energy, in due course Russia may start active supplies of graphite to abroad, and in particular Western markets, where the demand for the metal is steadily growing. For example, the growth of graphite consumption by the global electronics industry is estimated at 12%-13% per year.
Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. ... <Read more about Eugene Gerden>