26 Apr 2022 16:17

Kolmozerskoye lithium field license auction expected in Q3, starting price 310 mln rubles - minister

MOSCOW. April 26 (Interfax) - An auction for the rights to the Kolmozerskoye lithium deposit in Russia's Murmansk region is due to take place in Q3 2022, with a starting price of tentatively 310 million rubles, Natural Resources Minister Alexander Kozlov told Interfax.

"Rosnedra [the federal subsurface resources agency] is currently preparing a draft government resolution on holding an auction for the rights to a subsoil block of federal importance, including the Kolmozerskoye deposit (niobium, tantalum, lithium, beryllium), located in the Murmansk region. The preliminary calculation of the minimum one-off payment for the use of a subsoil resources is 310 million rubles. A draft government order should be prepared and submitted to the government on June 10. The auction is expected during Q3 2022," Kozlov said.

The Kolmozerskoye deposit's lithium oxide resources on the state balance were 843,645 tonnes as of January 1, 2021.

The Rosatom state nuclear corporation and Nornickel signed an agreement on April 25 on joint projects to develop the Kolmozerskoye lithium deposit and to process the lithium raw material mined there.

This will give Russia the opportunity to start its own lithium industry and production of lithium-ion batteries. The country does not currently mine lithium.

Kolmozoryskoye contains 18.9% of Russia's lithium reserves and is the country's most promising lithium deposit. It has not yet been licensed.

Rosatom and Nornickel plan to form a joint venture on an equal footing and with equal corporate governance principles which will combine the competencies of the partners and will bid at an auction for the Kolmozoryskoye license.

The deposit contains niobium, tantalum and beryllium besides lithium. The Natural Resources Ministry has put it up for auction but no interested parties could be found due to the hefty starting price, the ministry said this year.

Rosatom's Atomredmetzoloto or ARMZ, which mines uranium, said at the start of this year that it was choosing a pilot field to launch a lithium project in 2022.

Reports said last summer that ARMZ planned to mine lithium in Russia and possibly to take part in such projects abroad. The Kommersant newspaper said the company might start mining lithium compounds in the Murmansk and Irkutsk regions by 2030, investing more than 50 billion rubles and producing up to 50,000 tonnes per year.

Rosatom's Uranium One had also planned to start mining lithium in 2023, and to control a tenth of the world market by 2030, Sergei Polgorodnik, head of Techsnapexport, said in an interview with the Strana Rosatom in-house newspaper.