Russian Elbrusmetall-lithium invests US$250 million in development of major domestic Tastyg lithium field

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By Eugene Gerden

The Russian mining company Elbrusmetal-lithium, which is part of the Russian state and defence corporation Rostec, is investing about 22 billion rubles (US$250 million) in the development of the Tastyg lithium deposit, one of Russia’s largest lithium fields in terms of reserves.

The field is located in the Erzinsky district of the Tuva Republic, one of Russia’s regions in Southern Siberia struggling with economic growth. According to the governor of the region Vladislav Khovalyg, implementation of the project will be carried out as part of an investment agreement, which was signed between the investor and the authorities of Tuva during the recent St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) –once of the most important annual economic events in Russia and Europe.

According to the sides, the field has the reserves of 596,000 tonnes of lithium. Among its other reserves are niobium pentoxide – 7824 tonnes, tantalum pentoxide – 3949 tonnes, and tin in the volume of 21363 tonnes. The deposit was explored in 1955–1960. The average content of lithium oxide is 1.46%, and associated components are beryllium, niobium, tantalum and tin.

According to a specialist at the Tuva Institute for Integrated Development of Natural Resources of the Russian Academy of Sciences Choiganmaa Oidup, the development of the field will be carried out by open pit method.  As she has also added, the technology for lithium extraction will be carried out in two ways: flotation and gravity.

Choiganmaa Oidup comments:

“This means that the metal will be mined on-site, without the removal of dangerous concentrate.”

The period of development of the field is estimated at 30 years, while the entire project will create more than 1,000 jobs.

Elbrusmetall-lithium became the main investor of the project as a result of the recent auction, organized by the Russian government.

As Ivan Kurbatov, President of the Association of Geologists and Miners of Siberia earlier told in an interview with the Russian geo magazine Globus, currently Russia is in the top 10 world’s lithium nations in terms of reserves although the actual research, regarding its lithium reserves were conducted almost 30 years ago, while the existing data needs to be updated. Still, according to data of Alexander Kozlov, Russia’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, the country’s overall lithium reserves are estimated at 3.5 million tonnes (with 14 fields), which puts Russia in the 5th place in reserves in terms on the global scale.

Alexander Kozlov comments:

“Our lithium deposits are capable of meeting the domestic lithium needs for the long term; now it is important to increase its production volumes.”

In the meantime, another auction for the development of the country’s largest lithium field Kolmozerskoe in the Murmansk region was conducted, the license was acquired by a joint venture between Norilsk Nickel and Rosatom. Rosatom plans to use this lithium, to produce its own batteries at a plant in Kaliningrad.  In general, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources plans to license up to 6 deposits with lithium ores in 2024, which are located in the Murmansk and Irkutsk regions, Buryatia and Transbaikalia regions.

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