Russian Copper Co. (RPC) is set to invest 248 billion rubles ($3.3 billion) in the Malmyzh gold-copper plant in the Far East, targeting to make the mine operational in 2023, Igor Altushkin, RPC vice president, said during a press conference on September 9.
On September 3, RPC inked a 195 billion ($2.7 billion) loan agreement with the Russian state banks Sberbank and Gazprombank. Olga Kharlamova, vice president of Sberbank, in a follow-up statement, said the Malmyzh mining and processing plant is expected to be one of the biggest mining projects in Russia and would boost the country’s copper export in the next several years.
The Malmyzh mining and processing plant is designed to mine 90 million metric tons (mt) of copper ore per year to double RPC’s overall copper production, RPC said in a statement. The plant will achieve full production performance in 2025.
RPC has achieved a preliminary agreement with the Khabarovsk region government to include the Malmyzh plant in the Komsomolsk territory of priority development, subjecting the project to substantial state aid. In return, RPC must stick to the agreed production schedule.
Currently, Russia produces 900,000 mt of copper, exporting roughly 60,000 mt per year. At full operation, the Malmyzh mining and processing plant will increase Russian copper exports by 30%, accounting for 1.4% of the world’s copper production, RPC forecast.
Malmyzh is believed to be one of the largest copper-gold projects in the world. The deposit’s commercial reserves are estimated at 8.32 million mt of copper and 347 mt of gold. Both figures have significantly increased after a recent round of exploration works at the deposit.
RPC acquired the Malmuzh deposit from Canadian IG Copper and U.S. Freeport McMoRan Exploration in 2018 for $200 million. JSC Amur Minerals, an RPC subsidiary, began building a mining and processing plant at the Malmyzh deposit in 2020. The company has already purchased 14 Terex articulated haulers for the open-pit operations.
The Malmyzh project is part of the RPC’s capacity expansion program. Aleksey Gordeev, RPC mining director, commented that in addition to the Malmyzh project, RPC develops several new copper deposits in Russia and Kazakhstan.
“Construction of underground mines is currently underway at the 50 Let Oktyabrya deposit in Kazakhstan and the Vesenny in the Orenburg Oblast, Russia,” Gordeev said. “Capital mining operations are underway at the Limannoye deposit in Kazakhstan. Also, a decision has been made to develop the Tarutinsky copper deposit in the Chelyabinsk region, Russia.”