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Zverinogolovsky District, Kurgan Region: ARMZ Began Exploring Reserves of Dobrovolnoye Deposit
RUSBURMASH, JSC (subsidiary of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. specialized in geological exploration and drilling) plans to drill 238 wells, perform geophysical surveys, hydrogeological, engineering and geological work, analytical studies and office work.
«By the method of formation, the ore mineral composition, the groundwater chemical composition, hydrogeological and geological conditions, all three uranium deposits of the Trans-Urals — Dalmatovskoye, Khokhlovskoye and Dobrovolnoye — are complete analogues. Isolation of these paleovalley-type deposits is sufficient for such object exploitation by the in-situ leaching method. The exploratory well drilling and subsequent liquidation technique that we use allows us not to violate the initial integrity of the geological massif and conduct environmentally friendly production,» said Anatoly Novgorodtsev, Chief Geologist, RUSBURMASH, JSC. Indeed, in the entire history of the Trans-Urals uranium deposit development, since the discovery of the first of them, Dalmatovsky, in 1979, not a single emergency was recorded. The proof of reliable ore body isolation from groundwater is research conducted at deposits, including the Hydrogeological Expedition No. 30 of the FSBI Gidrospetsgeologiya. In particular, the conclusion of the Gidrospetsgeologiya experts states: «Hydrodynamically, the Dobrovolnoye deposit productive horizon is reliably isolated from the overlying aquifers; there are no prerequisites for the pollution of aquifers lying above the confining layer due to overflow from the productive horizon.»
Let us also recall that last summer the last arguments of the Dobrovolnoye deposit development opponents, who claimed that the wells drilled during geological exploration by crew No. 89 in 1988-1989 on the Dobrovolnoye deposit territory were allegedly «radioactive and erupted», were debunked.
On June 18, 2019, a special commission signed an inspection report based on the Dobrovolnoye territory survey results. The commission comprised of representatives of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of the Kurgan Region, the Uralnedra Department of Geology and Licensing in the Kurgan Region, National People’s Front, Administration of Zverinogolovsky District, deputies of Zverinogolovsky District Duma, Environmental Inspector of the Kurgan Region and public members. The following conclusions were made: «The commission examined the wellheads of production and hydrogeological wells and adjacent locations of sumps drilled at the Dobrovolnoye Uranium Deposit by exploration crew No. 89 in 1988-1989... and subsequently liquidated via liquidation plugging in 1987-1993. As a result, it was established that the condition of the wellheads of production wells and hydrogeological wells does not cause danger, the land plots have been reclaimed, and the gamma radiation power indicators measured at the wellheads of the above-mentioned wells are within normal limits... Due to reliable liquidation plugging of prospecting and exploratory wells, reclamation of their drilling sites, currently there are no signs of wellheads and sumps in the Dobrovolnoye Uranium Deposit area. The natural background radiation in the studied territory does not exceed 0.10 µSv/h.» Let us emphasize that among the public members who signed the act were the residents of Zverinogolovsky district who called themselves the Kurgan-AntiUranium movement organizers. At the Dobrovolnoye, RUSBURMASH, JSC will apply a new generation of equipment for direct determination of uranium in wells: KND—M instrumental and methodical complex. It was created at a Russian enterprise according to the RUSBURMASH terms of reference and significantly exceeds its existing counterparts in performance. In particular, the complex allows the study of small diameter wells; has a high generator life and significantly reduces operating costs for logging. The complex application also provides the ability to simultaneously record the uranium content and the filtration characteristics of ores and ore-bearing rocks. «Conducting studies using advanced technologies will increase the mining design efficiency and provide additional reserve involvement in the development,» added Anatoly Novgorodtsev, Chief Geologist, RUSBURMASH, JSC.
A bentonite clay-based drilling fluid is used in the well drilling, it penetrates 15-30 cm into the aquifers during the borehole drilling and makes them waterproof. After the well has been cased with HDPE 110×18 and HDPE 160×18 polyethylene pipes, the annulus in the range of 70-90 meters above the filter is waterproofed with cement mortar using PTC 1-50 GOST 1581-96 sulfate-resistant cement. The rest of the annulus above the cementation range and up to the wellhead is filled with gel-cement mortar.
Uranium mining in the Trans-Urals deposits by the in-situ leaching method is carried out by Dalur, JSC (subsidiary of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co.). «The long-term experience and practice in uranium deposit in-situ leaching development allow us to avoid a negative impact on the environment. We live here and our children will live here,» said Nikolay Poponin, Director General, Dalur, JSC. In the presence of journalists, the company’s dosimetry service expert conducted the radiation background measurements at the Dobrovolnoye deposit site. It was recorded that the background is 0.04 μSv/h (usually, the natural background in the Trans-Urals exceeds 0.1 μSv/h).
The Director General of Dalur, JSC also noted that in accordance with the Russian legislation requirements and in order to dispel the fears of the local population regarding uranium mining, the company engaged the Zverinogolovsky district residents in all the events and discussion of all steps for the deposit development preparation. So, during environmental monitoring, any resident of the district villages could specify the sampling point and be present at the sampling. In 2018-2019, following a public hearing, local residents approved a preliminary version of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) project for the construction and operation of the pilot site for uranium in-situ leaching at the Dobrovolnoye deposit, a project for the construction of so-called ‘mud pit’ used for disposal of spent drilling fluids, as well as documents justifying the license for the construction of nuclear facilities.
«Unconditional fulfillment of the law requirements, public participation at all stages of our activity, provision of an opportunity for everyone to submit their proposals, amendments and comments to the document drafts under development and, of course, the use of these proposals are our priorities. We discuss the construction of each facility with local residents, present all the necessary documents, explain the uranium mining safety for people and the environment,» said Nikolay Poponin.
The head of the Zverinogolovsky district, Mikhail Sheygets, confirmed that most of the local residents are happy that works began at the Dobrovolnoye. «This is a push in the district development, tax deductions, jobs. 8 local residents are already working here, in the near future up to 25 jobs will be created, and in the long term up to two hundred. The infrastructure and the people’s life quality will improve. It is important that no harm is done to the environment when this technology is used,» said Mikhail Sheygets.