8 Feb 2023 18:56

Nornickel-Rosatom JV receives rights to Kolmozerskoye lithium field

MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) - Polar Lithium, a collaboration between Nornickel and Rosatom's mining division, has been awarded the exclusive right to develop Kolmozerskoye, Russia's largest lithium deposit, Nornickel said in a statement.

The Federal Subsurface Resources agency held an auction for the 20-year right to develop and mine the deposit with a starting price of 1.56 billion rubles.

Nornickel has yet to reveal the amount of investment made in the deposit.

The project, located in the country's Murmansk Region, will produce 45,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate and hydroxide per year, key ingredients for batteries.

Norilsk Technical Services and Rusburmash, Rosatom's exploration and drilling company, will begin additional exploration in the coming months. The design and exploration phases are expected to be completed in a few years, with the project's design capacity to be reached by 2030.

The partners plan to establish a complete, integrated production facility that spans mining and processing to high-tech products, creating over 1,000 new jobs and reducing Russia's dependence on imported lithium and battery components.

"The Kolmozerskoye project is perfectly timed to meet the growing demand for lithium in electric vehicles and energy storage industries," said Sergey Stepanov, Nornickel Senior Vice President - Operational Director. "With lithium projects announced in other countries, we need to move fast. The partnership with Rosatom provides us with a huge set of competencies and a complete integration into the battery business."

"The development of the deposit will enable us to become Russia's first-ever domestic producer of lithium-bearing raw materials and eventually build a fully local production of lithium-ion traction batteries. By leveraging the synergy of assets and capabilities, Rosatom and Nornickel will accelerate the creation of a full-cycle domestic battery industry, from ore mining to the production of energy storage systems," CEO of Polar Lithium, Igor Demidov said.

Nornickel, by expanding its metals portfolio with lithium, is determined to strengthen its position as a major supplier to the battery industry, President of Nornickel Vladimir Potanin said. Cooperation between the Rosatom state corporation and Nornickel will allow Russian industry to take a step forward in developing its own production of efficient modern batteries, Potanin said. The extraction of raw materials will make it possible to create the first domestic production of lithium-containing products, as well as the production of traction lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium, one of the key elements for batteries, including in electric vehicles, is not currently produced in Russia.

Kolmozerskoye, discovered in 1947, is Russia's most promising lithium deposit and includes minerals such as lithium, beryllium, niobium and tantalum.