Russia to solve problem of graphite shortage?
Graphite production in Russia will be significantly increased during the next several years, due to the planned implementation of at least two investment projects in this field in the country this year.
One of such projects might be launched already in the coming months by Dalgrafit, one of Russia’s largest graphite producers on the basis of the Topolihinsky site of the Soyzny, the Russian graphite field.
Currently the field remains one of Russia’s largest in terms of prospective reserves, which are estimated at 13 million tonnes. It 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) and accounts for 50% of all Russian graphite reserves.
Under the terms of the project, the investor plans to build a large-scale mining and processing complex on the basis of the field, with an estimated production capacity of 40,000 tonnes of graphite concentrate per year.
According to Vitaly Mityusinskoy, head of Dalgrafit, total cost of the project is estimated RUB 4.125 billion (US$70 million). The launch of the complex is scheduled for the end of 2017. The new facility should reach its design capacity by the beginning of 2018 and will create up to 300 new jobs.
In the meantime, in addition to Dalgrafit, about its plans to increase the production of graphite in Russia has been recently announced by Uralgraphite Group, another Russia’s leading graphite producer and the only manufacturer of crystalline graphite in the country.
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It is planned that production will be increased on the basis of the OOO “Taigynsky GOK”, which is located in the Kyshtym area of the Chelyabinsk region of Russia. This year the volume of the production of the plant is expected to reach 12,000 tonnes, that will be comparable to the figures of previous years.
In the middle-term, according to the plant’s management, these figures should be increased to 20,000-25,000 tonnes. A particular attention is expected to be paid to the increase of production of high purity graphite, the demand for which in Russia has significantly increased in recent years. The latter will be achieved on the basis of a new chemical processing plant, that will be established within the structure of the Taigynsky GOK.
Currently Russia experiences a shortage of high-purity graphite, however there is a possibility that successfull implementation of the project will help to solve this problem already in the near future. The project fits into the program of import substitution.
It is planned that the majority of graphite, that will be produced in Russia 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 its 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>