Stans Energy to expand in Russian lithium industry
The Canadian Stans Energy is considering investing up to US$70 million in the production of lithium carbonate in Russia, according to the company.
In the heart of the project is the development of Zavitinsky lithium field, one of Russia’s largest poly-metallic fields, which is located in the Shilkinsky district of the Zabaykalsky Krai, the krai, in the historical region of Transbaikalia, close to China.
The overall volume of reserves of the field are estimated at 19 million tonnes, while the production is expected to be launched already at the beginning of 2017. The volume of production will amount to 9,000 tonnes per year. The mine has reserves for more than 30 years.
According to the authorities of the Zabaykalsky Krai, the production site is located 250 kilometers from the city of Chita, close to the Trans-Siberian Railway, one of Russia’s longest railways, which links Russia with China and other Asian countries. Due to this, according to plans of Stans Energy, the project provides a good opportunity for the exports of finished products of the plant to Japan, South Korea and China, along with the domestic market.
According to the company’s estimates, operating costs, associated with the implementation of the project, will be about US$3,400 per tonne of lithium carbonate. With the price of finished product of US$7,000 per tonne, the annual revenue of the company will amount to US$63 million.
Payback period of the project is estimated at about six years.
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Implementation of the project will be very important both for Stans Energy and Russia, as the latter currently experiences a shortage of lithium raw materials, the majority of which are imported from abroad, and in particular from Chile.
It is planned that the majority of future production of the plant will be supplied to the domestic market at the initial stage, while among the major domestic consumers are expected to be Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (NCCP), the Krasnoyarsk Chemical-Metallurgical Plant (KCMP) and some others.
At the same time a significant part of future production of the plant will be supplied for the needs of the domestic manufacturers of lithium batteries, the demand for which in Russia, according to latest predictions of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, is expected to grow during the next several years.
The development of Zavitinsky field took place during the period of 1949-1990. During this time the overall volume of production of lithium concentrate in the USSR amounted to more than 100,000 tonnes. The majority of Soviet lithium were supplied for the needs of the country’s defence industry. However, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 resulted in the suspension of operations of the plant and turning of Russia in almost a netto lithium importer.
Still, according to plans of the Russian government, there is a possibility such a situation will be significantly improved already in the coming years and in the case of successful implementation of the project.
According to the US Geological Survey, among the world’s leading countries, in terms of lithium reserves are Chile, China and Australia. As of 2012, these countries accounted for 7.5 million tonnes, 3.5 million tonnes and 1 million tonnes respectively.
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>