Russia to accelerate interests in tungsten and molybdenum
Rostec, a Russian state corporation, which specializes on the development, production and export of hi-tech industrial products for civil and defense sectors, plans to invest about 14 billion rubles (US$300 million) in the production of tungsten and molybdenum in Kabardino-Balkaria, a Russian region in the North Caucasus.
According to Denis Manturov, Head of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, production may take place at the Tyrnyauz tungsten-molybdenum field, which development was stopped several years ago. It is planned that the field may be provided to Rostec without contest or state tenders.
If everything goes ahead, the Tyrnyauz field may be transferred to RT Global Resources, a subsidiary of Rostec, which together with ICT Group, one of Russia’s leading investment and financial holdings, are currently involved in the development of Tomtor rare earth field in Yakutia.
Tyrnyauz field has been developed since 1930s, while its ore reserves are estimated at 360 million tonnes. It contains about 40% of Russian tungsten reserves and 10% of proven reserves of molybdenum. The production capacity of mine complex was 6.6 million tonnes of ore per year. The production at the field was suspended on 2002.
The Russain government has been trying to find investors for the resumption of production at the field since 2012. Last year the government had talks with the Canadian Almonty Industries about the possibility of the development of the field with the planned volume of investments in the range of 9-10 billion rubles (US$200 million), however a final agreement was never signed, due to the beginning of tensions of Russia with Western countries and the imposition of sanctions against Russia.
In the case of tungsten, among the largest producers of the metal in Russia are currently such companies as the Kirovograd factory of hard alloys (Sverdlovsk region), the Pobedit plant (North Ossetia), Polema (Tula) and Unechsky Plant of refractory metals (Bryansk region).
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According to Denis Manturov, the resumption of molybdenum and especially tungsten production in Kabardino-Balkaria is an acute need for Russia, due to the ever exhausting resources in the Far East and the Trans-Baikal regions.
It is planned that the majority of tungsten production will be used for the manufacture of carbide metal-cutting tools used both in civilian sector and defense industries.
According to an official spokesman of Rostec, among the major consumers of tungsten in Russia will be some local machine-tool holding state corporations, and in particular Stankoprom, as well as some local smelters and defense enterprises. Part of the future production is expected to be supplied for exports.
At the same time, in addition to Tyrnyauz field, as part of the plans of the Russian government is the attraction of private investors for the development of Koklanovskogo tungsten-molybdenum field, which is another large Russian tungsten-molybdenum field, located in the Kataysk area of the Kurgan region, a Russian region in the Southern Russia and part of the Urals Federal District.
According to Alexey Kokorin, the governor of the Kurgan region, the majority of future tungsten and molybdenum production will be exported to abroad. While Kokorin has refused to mention export destinations for the Russian tungsten and molybdenum, analysts of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade believe that future supplies will mainly take place to China and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
Finally, particular hopes of the Russian government are put on the development of Zharchihinsky molybdenum field in the Tarbagatai area of the Buryatia Republic.
Zharchihinskoe field is located 40 km south-west of Ulan-Ude, the capital of Buryatia Republi, 2.5 km away from the right bank of the Selenga river. According to preliminary investigation, total molybdenum reserves at the field are estimated at 61,200 tonnes, as well as 56,100 tonnes of molybdenum sulphide (with the content of molybdenum of 0.091% and 0.08% respectively, and 0.76 coefficient of ore-bearing).
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>