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Federation Council advocates urgent government measures to promote natural uranium production
On April 23, a round table on "Legislative Support of the Uranium Mining Industry" was held at the Federation Council. The meeting discussed relevant issues of legislative support of the uranium mining industry, as well as measures for the effective development of the industry.
The meeting was chaired by a member of the Federation Council Committee on Agriculture, Food Policy and the Environment, a representative of the Legislative Assembly of Zabaikalsky Krai Stepan Zhiryakov. The discussion was attended by members of the Federation Council, State Duma deputies, representatives of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation, including its mining arm ARMZ Uranium Holding (JSC ARMZ), Rosgeo, as well as industry experts.
Stepan Zhiryakov stressed the crucial importance of preserving Russia's uranium industry and supporting the required level of natural uranium and rare earth metals production in our country. He recalled that as of the beginning of 2015, Russia ranks third in the world in terms of uranium resources base, surpassed only by Australia and Kazakhstan. The main reserves of this strategic resource in our country are concentrated in Zabaikalsky Krai, Republic of Buryatia, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and Kurgan Oblast.
General Director of ARMZ Uranium Holding Vladimir Verkhovtsev in his report focused on the Russia's largest uranium mining enterprise, PJSC Priargunskoe Mining and Chemical Union (PJSC PIMCU), which is a backbone enterprise for a single-industry town of Krasnokamensk in Zabaikalsky Krai. "Over 46 years of development of Streltsovskoye mine field deposits, most of the reserves with the highest uranium grade have been already depleted at the existing mines, mineral content in residual reserves declined and does not allow for cost-effective production. As a result, the company found itself in a difficult financial and economic situation. Mid-term strategic prospects of the company for 2020 - 2040 are associated with the start of operations at Argunskoye and Zherlovoye deposits, which account for 35% of the total reserves of PJSC PIMCU. The average uranium grade there is higher than at the existing mines, which guarantees a competitive cost of production", - noted in particular Vladimir Verkhovtsev. Thus, the efficient production of uranium at PJSC PIMCU and socio-economic development of the single-industry town of Krasnokamensk today is impossible without detailed construction project of the new mine No. 6, worth about 30 billion rubles, that will ensure the maintenance of stable and competitive production on the basis of PJSC PIMCU.
Stepan Zhiryakov addressed the meeting with a proposal to recommend to include funding for the construction of engineering infrastructure of the mine No.6 of PJSC PIMCU in the Federal Targeted Program "Economic and Social Development of the Far East and the Baikal region for the period up to 2025", which is currently being prepared. Earlier, a similar recommendation was adopted at the meeting of the Coordinating Council on Social and Economic Development of the Baikal region under the Plenipotentiary of the RF President in the Siberian Federal District.
The Minister of Natural Resources and Industrial Policy of Zabaikalsky Krai, Oleg Polyakov in his speech touched on the possibility of the development of small uranium deposits of Zabaikalsky Krai, Gornoye and Berezovoye, by efforts of PJSC PIMCU.
The recommendations of the round table involved additional support for uranium mining companies and related single-industry towns, in particular, Krasnokamensk, as well as setting up new facilities to create more jobs in the regions where exploration and production of natural uranium is carried out. Following the meeting it was recommended according to the established procedure to include Krasnokamensk in the list of territories covered by the Federal Law "On Priority Socio-Economic Development Areas in the Russian Federation".
"The town of Krasnokamensk and Krasnokamensk area should benefit from incentives and privileges offered to a region where priority socio-economic development area has been established (PSEDA). According to Law No. 473-FZ companies and entrepreneurs operating in PSEDA receive significant tax benefits and other preferences promoting initiation and development of business. This is very important, since an industrial park has been created in the town, and together with JSC Atomredmetzoloto a search has been started for industrial investors who are willing to set up new facilities here.
Funds for reconstruction of the town infrastructure facilities (sewage treatment plants, waterworks, and Krasnokamensk – Matsievskaya highway), as well as the infrastructure of the newly built facilities of PJSC PIMCU shall be included in FTP "Economic and Social Development of the Far East and the Baikal Region" as funding priorities" - said deputy of the State Duma Vladimir Pozdnyakov.
"One of the crucial measures to support Russian uranium mining and to enhance its competitiveness in the coming years is the need for zero mining tax rate for production of raw radioactive metals in the form of uranium ore, molybdenum-uranium ores, concentrates and other intermediates containing uranium, including those produced using processing technologies classified as special mining operation types (in particular, in-situ leaching) for the period from 1 January 2016 through 31 December 2020. This incentive will increase financial resources of mining companies by 500 -600 million rubles per year, and allow to receive additional tax revenues later in the amount of about 700 million rubles. per year" – stressed Vladimir Verkhovtsev, citing the results of the meeting.
Following the discussion, the relevant committee of the Federation Council also suggested to consider the possibility to introduce into the agenda of the meeting of permanent members of the Security Council of Russia the issue of urgent government measures to stimulate exploration and production of natural uranium. At the meeting, in particular, it was noted that a significant resource potential existed for long-term development of the most promising and cost-effective underground in-situ leaching method, defined as a result of state-funded prospecting operations within Vitimsky uranium ore region in the Republic of Buryatia, in close vicinity of industrial site of JSC Khiagda. Continued state-funded exploration and assessment operations in Vitimsky uranium ore region are one of the most important development areas, as it will help improve the quality of mineral resource base of the Russian Federation by increasing its highly profitable component.