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One of the largest industrial and innovative projects of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. involving creation of state-of-the-art uranium mining enterprise under permafrost conditions nears completion
Commissioning of the last facility, a sulfuric acid plant, is being prepared at JSC Khiagda’s industrial site in the Bauntovsky District, Republic of Buryatia.
Construction of facilities within JSC Khiagda’s main industrial site has been carried out since 2010 under the investment programme pursued by Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation’s mining arm. The main production building, chemical and end-product warehouses, a transformer substation, a compressor facility and a fire station have operated under a pilot industrial mode since summer 2014. In May 2015, a permit for putting these facilities into commercial operation was signed. A set of documents for obtainment of conclusion on compliance of construction of second-phase facilities is now being prepared. These include a power facility, interfacility water supply networks and a sodium nitrite preparation and storage site.
“Completion of construction of the sulfuric acid plant, which will fully satisfy production needs, is among the main events implemented in the current year. The in-situ leaching technology requires consumption of large volumes of this compound. Construction of an in-house plant is a comprehensive, interesting and promising project that enables us to generate innovative mechanisms and introduce new technology with subsequent large-scale economic impact. Construction of this facility has become a core element of the investment programme. Overall investment into creation of production and engineering infrastructure amounted to approximately 4 bln rubles,” Aleksey Dementiev, JSC Khiagda Director General, says.
A construction site was selected and a ceremony for laying a foundation stone of the future plant was conducted in March 2010. By that time, JSC VNIPIpromtechnologii, an engineering centre of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co., had already carried out surveys and had developed a design project. A positive opinion from the Main Directorate of State Expert Review Board (Glavgosexpertiza) of Russia was obtained. JSC Intertest was chosen as the principal contractor of the plant building project.
During the period from 2010 to 2012, excavation and road works were carried out, which involved the use of advanced technology and materials allowing to conduct construction without harming the environment. To coordinate activities at this complex and significant site, a head office comprising designers, builders and leading professionals from JSC Khiagda was set up. Construction monitoring conducted on a weekly basis allowed to promptly resolve current and urgent issues, as well as to coordinate the work of contractor organizations and equipment supply.
So far, major construction, erection and finishing works have been completed and equipment has been installed. Air compressors have been launched and dehydrated air has been fed from receiver to process equipment through air piping. First steam was turned on in August. Front-edge safety and environmental approaches have been applied. The plant is equipped with efficient civil defense, emergency warning and fire extinguishing systems, and also with treatment facilities.
Desmet Ballestra, an engineering company, has proceeded to commissioning operations. The Italian company owns a MECS license (Monsanto). This sulfuric acid production technology is currently the most advanced and efficient one in the chemical industry.
In terms of performance specifications, design capacity of the plant amounts to 110,000 tons of sulfuric acid per annum in monohydrate equivalent. Its rated capacity is 324 tons of acid per day. Sulfuric acid is obtained from clean gas sulfur based on a so-called short pattern by the method of double catalysis with intermediate absorbance. Such technology with slight modifications has been used by all leading uranium producers for the last 30 years. “As early as this autumn, the high-tech sulfuric acid plant will reach its production capacity. Now there are no impediments to enhancing performance of main process equipment and further developing the deposits within the Khiagdinskoye ore field,” Aleksey Dementiev emphasized.