The Udokan deposit in Russia is considered one of the largest. According to experts, more than $ 1 billion should be spent on its development.
Udokan deposit: description
Located swimming pool to the north-east of Chita, 650 km from the city. Terrain, where the Udokan deposit is located, is considered seismically dangerous with the zonepermafrost. The average annual temperature is -4 degrees, and in winter it drops to -50. Permafrost penetrates to a depth of up to 800 m. Avalanches are often observed on the territory. The probability of earthquakes with an amplitude of up to 9-10 points is high. The rocks are distinguished by their high strength, abrasiveness, thermal conductivity, and silico-hazards. In general, the geological and climatic conditions of the territory can not be called favorable. In addition, there is almost no infrastructure.
What is mined in the Udokan deposit?
The pool is a source of valuable andin demand in the raw materials industry. The total volume of the balance reserve is 20 million tons of copper with an average ore grade of up to 1.46% and 11.9 thousand tons of silver. Mineral composition of ores is exceptionally constant. Udokan copper deposit is a source of chalcocite, chalcopyrite,bornite, magnetite, pyrite, hematite. In the form of minerals-impurities, molybdenite, valerite, pyrrhotite, vittichenite, marcasite, polydimite, sphalerite, native silver, cobaltite, tennantite, tromomayerite, molybdenite are found here. In primary ores, about 65% of copper is in chalcocite, 20-25% in bornite, 10-15% in chalcopyrite. Secondary minerals include:
- Widespread - azurite, malachite, gypsum, chalcosine, covellite, iron hydroxides (limonite, goethite).
- Less common are bornite, cuprite, tenorite, native copper, chalcantite, delafossite, chrysocolla, antlerite, brochantite, melanterite, jarosite and other rocks of the zone of precipitation.
In the basin's ores there are three mainmineral associations: bornite-chalcocite, chalcopyrite-bornite and pyrite-chalcopyrite. In the paragenetic connection of iron and copper minerals, a definite regularity is revealed. Chalcosine and bornite are associated with magnetite, and chalcopyrite is associated with pyrite. The most common ores include bornite-chalcosine. These rocks are represented by light gray, fine-grained, predominantly quartzite-poorly limestone sandstones. Less common are dark gray siltstones, including fine impregnation of bornite and chalcocite. Often against the background of fine-grained ore-bearing sandstones containing comparatively uniform layers of sulphides, lenticular bodies, layers and small nests of medium-grained sandstones, whose thickness is up to 1.5 m, with thickly disseminated mineralization, including up to 50% magnetite, in addition to chalcocite and bornite are revealed.
Beginning of work
Udokan deposit (Zabaikalsky Krai) was opened in 1949., geological exploration, however, began and closed twice. In 1981 the reserves were approved by the State Commission. Only in 1992 the state decided to sell a license to study and develop the basin. The contest was won by the little-known "Udokan company" at that time. It was owned by several foreign enterprises. For 7 years the company was inactive and eventually lost its license. In 1999, another contest was held, in which only domestic enterprises participated. The license for geological exploration activities was transferred to the Trans-Baikal Mining Company following the results of the tender. In 2001, a tender was announced for the development of the basin. At the same time, very strict conditions were established for the participants. The winner had to start construction of the mining plant not later than three years from the date of obtaining the license. At the same time, no later than 6.5 years - to start mining. And in the seven-year period, GOK was to reach its designed capacity. As additional requirements were the obligation to invest in social. sphere, create new jobs and ensure maximum environmental safety of the enterprise. At the same time, as noted by experts, such a large-scale project could pay back itself within 10 years.
Completion of the competition
The battle for the Udokan deposit lastedsome years. Among the contenders there were various large corporations. Among them: MMC Norilsk Nickel, Basic Element Holding, Onexim Group. Subsequently, they refused to participate. In the final, which took place only in September 2009, turned out to be JSC Russian Railways and Mikhailovsky GOK. The latter was a member of the Metalloinvest group and won the competition. For the license, the winner gave 15 billion rubles. As a operator for the Udokan field, a subsidiary of Mikhailovsky GOK was appointed. This enterprise was specially formed for the implementation of the project. The company's tasks include developing a development strategy, providing technical and project documentation, attracting investments, operational management of development. It was assumed that, together with it, the state corporation of Russian Technologies would function. An agreement on cooperation and the construction of a joint venture was signed with it.
On Udokan deposit many foreign enterprises drew attention.Thus, the economic efficiency of the basin was confirmed by the representatives of Bateman Engineering NV. This company performs a comparative analysis of technologies and the rationale for the technological scheme for the creation of a project of a mining and metallurgical plant. Industrial tests of pool ores have already begun. The results of the measures are used to form an additional database for the compilation of a feasibility study. Meanwhile, the preferred variant of the scheme has already been announced. Specialists Bateman Engineering NV offered a unique technology of ore processing at the Udokan deposit - autoclave leaching of the concentrate.This method has not previously been used in domestic metallurgy. Using this method, the formation of furnace gases is completely eliminated and the ecological load is significantly reduced.
Almost simultaneously with the beginning of BatemanEngineering NV, started the activities for the approval of reserves by the world standards JORC. This will increase the investment attractiveness of the pool. The Udokan deposit is developed in an open way. It is estimated that 36 million tons of ore will be processed annually. The combine, in turn, will produce more than 470 thousand tons of cathode copper, taking in passing more than 270 tons of silver.
They are represented by complex lenses andPlastoid deposits, complex in their configuration. Often, they are stratified and arranged in an eccentric manner. In some areas there are several main bodies, located at a distance of 2-3 km by rubbing. The largest and richest of them are located in the northern part of the Naminggin brachinsinklery. They differ in the general southwest declension. In the southern part, there is a significant reduction in the thickness of the ore bodies.
The internal structure is determined by mutualtransitions and frequent alternation of layers of different intensity of mineralization both along strike and fall, and in the direction of power. In this regard, they are presented in the form of a "puff pie". A frequent violation of the compactness of bodies is noted, especially on the flanks. This is due to the presence of non-ore layers. This is expressed in the change in the coefficient of ore content from 1 to 0.2. The average score is 0.6-0.8. The thickness of the ore-bearing and weakly-frozen layers varies from a fraction of a meter to 5 m. It has been established that the richest ore interlayers and lenses are confined to erosion surfaces, distinctly expressed in channeled depressions and local depressions. In the distribution of finely divided ores in quartzite sandstones, obvious patterns are not revealed. The contours of industrialization are determined from the sampling data.
As it will act cathode copper(grade A on the classification of the London Metals Exchange) and silver bullion Dore. The key consumers of the concentrate are China and domestic enterprises. Russian copper refineries already lack raw materials. The deficit of concentrate also slows down the development of Chinese enterprises that produce refined copper. Due to the comparative small distance from Chita, the production of the basin is a rather advantageous variant of raw materials for them. In subsequent years, the demand for concentrate is projected to increase. This is due to the increase in the volume of electrolysis production in Japan, Russia and China.
The authorities of Transbaikalia impose on the development projectThe Udokan deposit has high hopes. The stable operation of the enterprise will allow bringing to work 4 thousand people. In addition, the infrastructure will be substantially modernized, the volume of tax payments to the regional budget will increase, social programs for the development of small nationalities and local crafts will be implemented. According to a number of experts, it is impossible to postpone development of the field, since this could negatively affect the economic security of the country. At present, the demand for raw materials is covered by the basins of the Urals and Taimyr. However, their reserves are on the verge of exhaustion. The Udokan field will be able to meet the needs of the industry for at least half a century. Otherwise, there is a threat of a reduction in production. This, in turn, will entail a worsening of the socio-economic situation of the country's copper-processing regions.