Rosatom diversifies work in Arctic region

03 April 2017

ARMZ, Atomflot and VostokCoal have signed an agreement to cooperate in the development of the Russian Arctic region. The document was signed on 29 March by ARMZ director-general Vladimir Verkhovtsev, Atomflot general director Vyacheslav Ruksha and VostokCoal chairman Dmitry Bosov during the International Arctic Forum held last week in Arkhangelsk.

ARMZ is the uranium mining arm of Rosatom, while Atomflot is the Russian state nuclear corporation's subsidiary responsible for the operation and maintenance of the country's fleet of nuclear icebreakers. VostokCoal develops coal and anthracite production projects in Russia.

Rosatom said on 30 March the agreement "provides for the establishment of a mutually beneficial partnership and cooperation on a number of issues: in particular, in ensuring uninterrupted and environmentally safe icebreaking by ships on the Northern Sea Route, as well as joint development of polymetallic, coal and other deposits, including the design and construction of mining and processing enterprises in the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation".

Ruksha said Atomflot is the "backbone of the largest projects at high latitudes" and the agreement was a "positive signal" for companies planning projects in the Arctic.

The three companies have also agreed to work together on the development of the Pavlovsky lead-zinc deposit at Novaya Zemlya, which is an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean in northern Russia. Verkhovtsev said this deposit is one of ARMZ's "key business diversification projects" and the new agreement would be instrumental for tapping into the economic potential not only of Arkhangelsk, but of the entire Russian Arctic region.

Bosov added that development of the Pavlovsky deposit would strengthen Russia's position in world energy markets.

Vyacheslav Pershukov, Rosatom's director of the innovation management, told the same conference that the nuclear corporation "has always been operating in the Arctic and always will be". He said: "We are creating completely new, innovative products that are designed to serve the development of the Arctic region and at the same time to protect this ecologically fragile and unique natural world."

Rosatom's activities in the Arctic include, he said, navigating ships along the Northern Sea Route with the help of nuclear icebreakers; providing power supply to the Arctic region from the Bilibino nuclear power plant; addressing issues related to Russia's nuclear defence legacy in the region; dismantling and utilising radioisotope thermoelectric generators; and monitoring radiation levels in the area.

He also noted progress with the construction of the world's first floating nuclear power plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, which is to be installed in Pevek. Featuring two 35 MWe KLT-40S reactors, the Akademik Lomonosov is undergoing trials at the Baltic Shipyard, which are expected to be completed by late October. The plant should be ready to be transported to Pevek later this year. Rosenergoatom, Rosatom's nuclear power plant operator subsidiary, plans to start installation of the plant in September 2019, followed by trials and operational launch.

Floating plants offer various advantages: construction in a factory or shipyard should bring efficiencies; siting is simplified; environmental impact is extremely low; and decommissioning can take place at a specialised facility. However, the offshore environment brings important considerations, such as access for personnel and equipment and the need to ensure radioactive materials never enter the sea.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News