Ore mining on Novaya Zemlya coming soon | Polarjournal
Technical investigations and geological explorations have begun on the southern island of the Novaya Zemlya-Achipelago. (Photo: Rosatom)

The JSC First Mining Company, a subsidiary of ARMZ Uranium Holding, has completed the first phase of the field season on the South Island of the Novaya Zemlya Archipelago. The Pavlovskoye Mine borders the shoreline of the Barents Sea and is 16 to 18 km away from a deep-water bay. Here, seagoing vessels with a displacement of 6 to 8,000 tons can be loaded with goods.

The JSC First Mining Company has been investigating the mining area with technical investigations and geological explorations on the Pavlovsky ore field. (Photo: Rosatom)

The Pavlovskye lead-zinc mine is classified as one of the largest mines in Russia. The project is expected to contain reserves sufficient for a production period of up to 35 years.

The Pavlovskye mine is the northernmost mine in the world and is estimated to contain 2.48 million tonnes of zinc and 549,000 tonnes of lead and 1,194 tonnes of silver. The mine is expected to supply up to 3.5 million tonnes of ore per year. The mining area and processing sites cover an area of 12 km2. The project includes a processing plant with an annual production capacity of 220,000 tonnes of zinc and 47,000 tonnes of lead concentrates. It will be operated by JSC First Mining Company, a subsidiary of Rosatom.

A new port is being built to supply the mine and to transport the products. (Image: Eleron/Rosatom)

The company originally planned to start production as early as 2019. The launch has now been postponed until 2023. Costs are also being revised. Rosatom initially planned to invest 37.5 billion rubles (543 million euros) in the project.

The project also includes the construction of a new seaport in nearby Bezimyannaya Bay. The terminal will be central to the development of the mine. According to reports, the port will have a capacity to handle up to 500,000 tonnes of goods per year. The new seaport was newly budgeted at 400 billion rubles (5.1 billion euros), well above the initial cost estimates.

The mining area is located in the Tundra area of Novaya Zemlya and can only be reached by all-terrain vehicles. (Foto: Rosatom)

Nuclear test from 1955 to 1990

Novaya Zemlya is a closed military area that is strictly controlled by the Russian armed forces. Between 1955 and 1975, the South Island of Nowaya Zemlya was used for major underground nuclear tests. Of the seven detonations that took place in the area, several vented radioactive gases into the atmosphere because the explosions did not take place deep enough in the ground.

From 1976 to 1990, all underground nuclear tests took place at the northern test site in Matochin Street. Since 1990, only so-called subcritical nuclear tests have been carried out in Nowaya Zemlya.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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