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Sulfuric acid plant put into operation at Khiagda JSC industrial site
Khiagda can be surely called an enterprise of the future, not only because it has been created at state-of-the-art technology level, but also because it’s going to supply raw materials to the Russian nuclear industry for more than a hundred years", - said general director of the mining arm or Rosatom Vladimir Verkhovtsev at the launching ceremony of the sulfuric acid plant at the main production site of Khiagda.
On-site production of the first ton of sulfuric acid can be considered as completion of one of the largest industrial and innovation projects undertaken by ARMZ Uranium Holding Co. An advanced uranium mining enterprise has been built in five years in Bauntovsky Evenki district of the Republic of Buryatia, in permafrost area. Sulfuric acid plant is the last project of the investment program.
"It is symbolic that this event, being very significant for Rosatom, takes place right now, when we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Russian nuclear industry. Here we stand literally at the very beginning of our entire production chain, amidst a rich deposit which is, and will be giving power and strength to the entire industry", - said Vladimir Verkhovtsev.
Indeed, according to the chief geologist of Khiagda Andrei Gladyshev, the facilities of the main production site are located in the heart of Vitimsky uranium ore district, with estimated resources of 350 thousand tons, including 250 thousand tons suitable for in-situ leaching. Currently the deposits of Khiagda ore field - Khiagdinskoye, Istochnoye, Vershinnoye, Tetrakhskoe, Dybrynskoe, Namaruskoe, Koretkondinskoye and Kolichikanskoe are being developed or scheduled for development.
The main production building, chemical and finished product storages, transformer substation, compressor house, and fire department have been operating in pilot mode since the summer of 2014. In May 2015, a commissioning permit was signed. Now the documents are being prepared to obtain construction conformity certificates for the second phase facilities, including power complex, inter-facility water supply networks, sodium nitrite preparation and storage site.
"The central event of this year for us is the completion of the sulfuric acid plant, which will fully meet our production needs. In-situ leaching technology involves consumption of large amounts of this reagent. Construction of our own on-site plant is a busy, interesting and promising project, which allows to generate innovation mechanisms and introduce new technologies, followed by large-scale economic effect", - said General Director of Khiagda Alexei Dementiev.
The construction site was selected and the first stone laid in the foundation of the plant in March 2010. At this point VNIPIpromtekhnologii JSC, the engineering center of ARMZ Uranium Holding Co., had already completed survey work, and developed the project. Positive conclusion of RF Glavgosekspertiza was obtained. Intertest JSC became the general contractor for construction of the plant, together with Italian engineering group Desmet Ballestra, the world leader in sulfuric acid plant engineering.
According to the specifications, design capacity of the plant is 110 thousand tons of sulfuric acid per year in monohydrate equivalent. Nominal capacity is 324 tons of acid per day. Preparation of sulfuric acid from pure sulfur is carried out using the so-called "short-circuit" method that involves double catalysis with intermediate absorption. This technology with minor variations has been used in the past 30 years by all major uranium mining enterprises.
Launch of on-site plant will allow reducing three times the specific cargo traffic. Instead of sulfuric acid, raw materials for its production in the form of granulated sulfur will be supplied to the enterprise. But the most important result is the increase in metal production for the nuclear industry.
"Now, with the commissioning of the entire complex, we can gradually increase output. Currently the deposits of Khiagda field are being mined. From 2015 to 2018, we will consistently put into operation deposits of Istochnoye and Vershinnoye fields. If in 2014 Khiagda produced 442 tons of uranium, in 2015 finished product output will reach 508 tons, and by 2018 we plan to achieve the designed level of 1,000 t of uranium per year, and in the future increase the output to two thousand tons per year", - said Vladimir Verkhovtsev.
Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Republic of Buryatia for Economic Development Alexander Chepik, head of Bauntovsky Evenki district Nikolai Kovalyov, and representatives of federal and regional authorities who arrived at the launch ceremony of the sulfuric acid plant congratulated the labor collective of Khiagda on project completion. The guests got acquainted with the entire uranium production chain - from drilling wells on the deposit being prepared for acidification to productive solutions processing and manufacturing of finished product, uranium compounds suspension (yellow cake). "The launch of sulfuric acid plant is the next step in the development of our republic. It involves creation of new jobs and increased tax revenue. I stress that all taxes coming to Buryatia from Rosatom are earmarked for the development of Bauntovsky Evenki district, construction of roads, bridges, kindergartens",- specifically added Alexander Chepik.
During the launching ceremony of the sulfuric acid plant, the best workers of Khiagda were awarded with prizes and Certificates of Honor of Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation , and the contractors received gratitude from ARMZ Uranium Holding.