Norilsk Nickel reported during an investor-day presentation in London, England, on May 19 that its corporate investment committee has approved development of its open-pit Chita copper project in southern Siberia, approximately 300 km from the Russia-China border. Development will be based on a mining reserve of 294 million metric tons (mt) of ore, grading 0.7% copper, 23% iron, and 0.8 g/mt gold, with startup scheduled for 2017.

Capital expenditures to develop the Chita project are estimated at $1.1 billion. EBITDA margins are estimated at about 50%, with an asset IRR of about 30%. Mine life will be more than 30 years.

Chita project ore will be processed through a 10-million-mt/y concentrator to produce 66,000 mt/y of copper in concentrate, 3.1 million mt/y of magnetite concentrate, and 219,000 oz/y of gold in concentrate.

Infrastructure development includes construction of a new, approximately 600-km rail line, which is being financed 25% by Norilsk and 75% by the Investment Fund of the Russian Federation.