Russia’s deputy prime minister, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev, with Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic Aleksei Chekunkov, Trans-Baikal Territory Governor Alexander Osipov, and Udokan Copper Board Chairman Valery Kazikaev in tow, inspected the construction sites of the Udokan Mining and Metallurgical Plant, one of the largest and most ambitious projects in the Far East.
“A major mining and metallurgical plant is being created,” Trutnev said. “The enterprise is being constructed in harsh conditions; people work practically seven days a week. The plant will employ more than 2,500 people. We need to build housing for them to make sure that plant workers will not just call in on a rotational basis but become Far Easterners, live and work here, in Transbaikalia. It is important that the state-backed projects help create comfortable living conditions for people in the Far East.”
The Udokan deposit has reserves of more than 26 million tons of copper and is the largest untapped copper deposit in Russia and the third-largest in the world. Upon the project completion, a mining and metallurgical plant will be commissioned to manufacture cathode copper and sulfide concentrate; the production output is projected at 125,000 tons per year. The project is being implemented as part of the Transbaikalia priority development area.
“Since this project has a strong resource-secured investor, it fits well to our new Far Eastern concession mechanism, which enables public-private funding of infrastructure projects,” Chekunkov said. “Therefore, we teamed up with the investor — Udokan Copper — to explore concession options to create Novaya Chara village with improved standards of living.”
Osipov believes the project can become a milestone in the region’s development. “A great many people, production, large revenue, large added gross product, and many jobs,” he said. “We believe this will be an impetus. Together with the ministry for the development of the Russian Far East, local authorities have selected many social facilities that undergo renovation. We are renovating almost all of the facilities in Chara. However, they lack the serving capacity for the new settlement, and we know that the investor is already designing a new district, planning the construction of new housing. New social facilities are what we really need. We hope that all the required decisions are made shortly, and we will expand Chara.”
Upon reaching its full capacity, the plant will employ up to 2,500 people and provide up to 20,000 jobs in related industries. The plant is to contribute up to 10% to the gross regional product of Transbaikal Territory.
At the moment, the construction of transport and energy infrastructure facilities, the plant’s production facility, as well as a shift camp and several auxiliary facilities, is underway in Udokan.
Structural steelworks, concreting, and the installation of processing equipment are in full swing. Capital mining operations at the deposit have started ahead of schedule.
Construction of the entire electric transmission line and two substations with a total capacity of 196 megawatts (MW) approaches its final phase. The capacity of the substations is sufficient to ensure the construction and operation of the plant.
The installation of a gyratory crusher at the coarse crushing body started in May. The equipment boasts a record-high processing capacity of up to 4,000 tons of copper ore per hour.
“Stage-1 construction works will be complete in the coming years,” Kazikaev said. “Taking account of the support that the state and the region provide to us, we decided to start designing the second stage of the plant with a capacity of more than 36 million tons of ore per year.”