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ARMZ Uranium Holding and Dalur, JSC Management met people from Trud i Znanie village, Zverinogolovsky district, Kurgan region
Information meeting was held in the village’s school. Prior to its beginning Kamila Zhimbaeva, director of Municipal State-Owned Educational Institution Trudovskaya School of General Education, introduced the guests to the educational process; demonstrated the awards of the educational institution and spoke of the existing problems. Alexander Burutin, Chairman of the Board of Dalur, JSC, promised to help with the visit of the junior school pupils to the New Year party held at the Recreation Center of Engineers in Kurgan, namely to provide funds to fuel the school buses and, of course, to buy tickets to the main children’s event of the region.
Trud i Znanie village is the closest to the area of the future development of the Dobrovolny uranium deposit. So it was no surprise that the inhabitants had a lot of questions concerning the safety of works for themselves and environment. However, the management of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. and Dalur, JSC dispelled all doubts.
“In-situ leaching technology (ISL) does not cause changes in the environmental state of the subsoil, since the excavation of ore mass is not performed. There is no subsidence and disturbance of the earth's surface, falling of out-of-balance ores and waste rocks, as well as tailing dumps. No dust formation is present at all extraction stages, including access to the ore body and its preparation. Indeed, the main advantage of ISL technology is that the natural radioactivity of the ore body remains deep beneath the earth and there are no such sources of radioactivity as radon and ore dust. It can be achieved due to the fact that the ore itself remains in-situ as it is not removed from the ground. Boreholes used for pumping of the solution mixed from an oxidant (e.g. hydrogen peroxide) and complexing agents (sulfuric acid in this case) are drilled from the surface. The leaching solution pass through the ore to oxidize and dissolve the uranium minerals in situ without dissolving the ore itself. Again, ISL technology does not create underground cavities as only the metal itself is separated and extracted from the ore-bearing layer. The most efficient leaching solution used for mining is not the concentrated sulfuric acid as one can imagine. The content of sulfuric acid in our solution is just 0.5-0.6% or 5-6 grams per liter. One can spill the liquor on his/her hand almost without any consequences as it won’t eat into the hand. If there is a scratch it will cause insignificant tingling. Of course, none should do this. However, it is even weaker than the solution contained in car batteries (once spilled dissolves fabric on your trousers), way more weak”, Viktor Svyatetskiy, First Deputy Director General of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co., said.
The experts performed a geological presentation for the village inhabitants concerning the structure of all the three uranium deposits, including the Dobrovolny deposit, in the Kurgan region. All of them are located in the bed of a river that flowed there 140 million years ago. The bottom and the banks of the river are represented by the crystalline rock basement almost impermeable for water or any other liquid. And right below the deposit there is a 100-120 m layer of clay (of brick type). Thus the uranium deposits are almost completely isolated from aquifers, being encapsulated by rock on the sides and on the bottom and capped by a hundred meters of impermeable clay.
According to Viktor Svyatetskiy, the above-ground mining and processing complex has no effect on the environment as a result of minimal production wastes and emissions, absence of piles, sludge dumps and contact between the ore-bearing horizon and surface water. However, preparation to development of the deposit, construction and maintenance of facilities shall be performed in strict compliance with the current legislation of the Russian Federation. According to the enterprise, the development of design documents, including the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) will be completed in 2018. After that, according to the requirements of the legislation, the public discussion of the project (including the EIA) with the inhabitants of the Zverinogolovsky district will take place. In case of the positive result of the public discussion the project will be transferred to Federal Autonomous Institution Glavgosekspertiza (Main Department of State Expertise) for state expert appraisal (including state environmental appraisal). Only after the aforementioned steps and receipt of the positive expert opinions Dalur, JSC will proceed with prospecting surveys followed by test mining.
Many questions asked by the pupils present at the meeting concerned the training aimed at the further employment. Nikolay Poponin, Director General of Dalur, JSC, highlighted that their strategy was based on the employment of the local labor and said, “Up to 90% of the inhabitants of Uksyanskoe village and Shumikha city as well as nearby villages work on the production sites located there. So we want to do the same thing here. What concerns training we must say that our enterprise is licensed to train professional hydrometallurgy equipment operators, wellfield operators, chemistry lab technicians, maintenance technicians, mechanized or automated storage operators, well service operators. Job training program at Dalur, JSC lasts for three months. For example, when we started the development of the Khokhlovsky deposit the people from Shumikha came to Uksyanskoe to be trained and gain experience. Now they work close to their homes. For higher education in the jobs demanded by us one can go to the following departments of the first President of Russia B.N. Yeltsin Ural Federal University: Chemical Technology of Modern Power Industry Materials, Geodesy and Remote Sensing, Automation of Technological Processes and Production Automation, as well as at Ural State Mining University, Saint-Petersburg Mining University and at the Department of Technology of the Kurgan State University”.
Is the new production facility environmentally friendly? That was the question of interest for everyone. Some discussion took place as Nikolay Afanasiev, one of the leaders of Kurgan Anti-uranium movement, was present at the meeting. He strongly opposed the new production facility and tried to disrupt the meeting, however, he was not supported by the local people. The slogans that, according to the anti-uranium activist, should have been close to the heart of everyone present at the meeting were not supported by the locals. The arguments of ARMZ Uranium Holding were more convincing and comprehensible for the people.
The public thanked the experts of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. for the meeting, detailed description of the technological process and use of the environmentally friendly in-situ leaching technology for uranium extraction. The holding management invited the local people to join in an excursion to the active production sites of Dalur, JSC in the Dalmatovsky and Shumikhinsky districts of the Kurgan region.