26 Nov 2009 16:30

ARMZ could delay planning at Elkon uranium field by a year

MOSCOW. Nov 26 (Interfax) - Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ), the Russian uranium mining holding, could delay planning and designs for a mine at the Elkon uranium field in Yakutia from 2010 until 2011, the company's chief, Vadim Zhivov, said at a meeting in Moscow.

"We won't realistically be able to complete the designs in 2010 and hope to finish them in 2011," Zhivov said.

The company will apply for permission to adjust the project's timeframe, he said.

Alexander Boitsov, the holding's deputy chief, said at the beginning of October that ARMZ planned to deliver the Elkon project in stages because the project in its existing form would not be feasible at today's low prices. "At today's prices it is not feasible to develop fields containing more than 320,000 tonnes," he said.

ARMZ has been working with consultants to split the project up into phases. The first phase could see the construction of a mine capable of producing 2,500-3,000 tonnes per year - as much as Russia's current main producer, Priragun Mining, turns out each year. Then, if feasible, capacity at Elkon might be raised to 5,000 tonnes, as originally planned.

Earlier reports said a justification of investment (JoI) already exists for Elkon and a pre-feasibility study should be completed in Q1 2010, that ARMZ was drafting the paperwork for a tender to find a general designer for the mine, which could be called before the end of this year, and that talks were under way with Russian and foreign companies.