The Elkon uranium deposit in the south of the Russia's Sakha region is to be exploited, while power and heat from four floating nuclear power reactors will enable development in the north according to an agreement signed by Russia's Rosatom.
The agreement was signed by the head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, and President of the Sakha region, Vyacheslav Shtyrov. As well as the development of Elkon and four new floating reactors, it also covers the construction of a corresponding Elkon Mining and Metallurgical Combine (EMMC).
Sakha is the largest republic in the Russian Federation. In the Yakutia region, between Siberia and Russia's Far East, it spans three time zones, but has less than one million inhabitants. The Elkon area of southern Yakutia has reported resources of 320,000 tonnes of uranium in eight deposits, representing about 6% of world reserves.
EMMC's output would ramp up from 2013 to reach 3000 tonnes of uranium per year in 2015 and a design capacity of 5000 tonnes per year by 2024. Such a capacity would make it Russia's largest uranium mining complex, capable of producing up to one-quarter of the uranium consumed by the country's nuclear power plants. The project - to be managed by Russian uranium mining company AtomRedMetZoloto (ARMZ) - will create about 12,000 jobs.
A total of some 90.5 billion roubles ($2.5 billion) is expected to be invested in the project, which will be partially financed from the Russian Investment Fund. The Southern Yakutia Development Corp has been registered to implement the project. Rosatom said that private investors, as well as foreign ones, would be invited to join the project. However, at least 51% of the venture would remain in Russian state hands.
According to Kiriyenko, French, Japanese, South Korean and Indian companies have already expressed an interest in the development of the Elkon uranium deposit.
More floating reactors
In October 2007, an agreement was signed with the Sakha Republic to build a floating nuclear power plant for its northern parts. At that time, officials expected to commission the power plant around 2013-5. The new agreement expands this to four such plants.
Rosatom is planning to construct seven or eight floating nuclear power plants by 2015. The first has been under construction since April 2007 with intended completion in 2010 to supply the Severodvinsk region, and the second is planned for 2012 commissioning at Pevek on the Chukotka peninsula in Russia's Far East. Each has two 35 MWe KLT-40S nuclear reactors. Five will be used by Gazprom for offshore oil and gas field development and for operations on the Kola and Yamal peninsulas. Another was planned for Kamchatka region, also in the far east of the country. The floating plants destined for Yakutia are expected to employ smaller ABV reactors.