Russia prepares for large-scale rare earth metals production
The government of Russia’s Murmansk region, a region, located in the northwestern part of Russia, has started a search of an investor for the development of the local Afrikandovsky field of rare-earth metals, according to Alexei Tyukavin, first deputy-governor of the region.
According to Murmansk regional government, successfull development of the field will allow to establish a full-scale production of titanium dioxide, as well as rare-earth metals.
Estimated volume of investments in the project is 8 billion rubles (US$200 million). Ore reserves of the field will ensure continous operation of a mine and processing complex, that will be built later during the next 100 years.
The tender is expected to be completed by the end October of the current year. The license for an investor will be granted for 25 years. In addition to rare earth metals, titanium, iron, tantalum, niobium and other metals.
The Russian government puts big hopes on the implementation of the project, considering the Murmansk region as a new center of Russia’s rare-earth metals production.
This was confirmed in the state program “Production of rare earth metals in Russia until 2020”, which was officially adopted by the government on the 5th of February of 2013.
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In addition to Afrikandovsky field, as part of the state plans is the development of the Lovozersky field, Russia’s largest loparite field, which is also located in the Murmansk region and where the REM content of primarily of cerium group is estimated at about 1.12%.
It is planned that titanium-tantalum-niobium concentrates, that will be produced at the Lovozero mining and processing complex, will be supplied for further processing to Solikamsk magnesium plant, which specialize in the production of REM carbonates.
At the same time, in addition to the Murmansk fields, the production of rare-earth metals will soon be accelerated in the Yakutia Republic, where it will take place on the basis of the local Tomtor field, one of the world’s largest rare-earth metals fields, which reserves are estimated at 154 million tonnes of ore.
According to state plans, the production at the field should be officially started on 2021. The project will be implemented by Triarkmining company, which is a joint venture of the Russian Rostec state corporation and ICT Group, (one of Russia’s leading financial and investment companies), and will involve the development of the Buranny site (which is located on the area of 12,4 sq.km.) of the field at the initial stage.
Under the terms of the project, geogological and exploration works on the Tomtor field should be completed during the period of 2016-2018. Building of all the needed infrastructure of the field is scheduled for 2019-2020. The reserves of the Byranny site are designed until 2055-2060 years, while the overal reserves of the Tomtor field, according to estimates of analysts of Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, will be enough to meet Russia’s needs in rare-earth metals for the period of 400 years.
According to plans of the Russian government, successful development of the Murmansk and Yakutia rare-earth metals fields will allow Russia to fully refuse from the imports of rare-earth metals (mostly from China) already in the near future.
In the long-term, Russia plans to become one of the leaders in the global market of rare-earth metals. During the Soviet times the USSR was the world’s third largest country in terms of rare-earth metals production. At present the share of Russia in the global market of rare-earth metals is estimated at 1.3%. Currently Russia accounts for 17-18% of world reserves of rare-earth metals.
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>