Russian uranium holding Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ), a subsidiary of Russia's Rosatom, has started developing the Vershinnoye uranium deposit in the Republic of Buryatia, in southern Siberia. ARMZ said in a statement on Rosatom's website on 29 March that the deposit has 4,577t of uranium (tU) reserves and that the first production by in situ leaching (ISL) would be next year by its subsidiary JSC Khiagda. The Vershinnoye deposit is one of eight in the Khiagda Ore Field. The others are Dybrynskoye, Istochnoye, Khiagdinskoye, Kolichikanskoye, Koretkondinskoye, Namaruskoye and Tetrakhskoye. These are located in the middle of Vitimsky Uranium Region.
JSC Khiagda's director of production, Andrey Gladyshev, said more than 1,200 production wells will be built at the deposit, of which 165 have already been drilled. Primary processing of pregnant solutions will be carried out at a local facility from which loaded resin is trucked to a central plant.
JSC Khiagda is already producing from the Khiagdinskoye deposit, which has reserves of 10,849 tU, and will start work soon on the Istochnoye deposit, which has 2,055 tU, according to the ARMZ statement. Work will gradually start on the Dybrynskoye, Istochnoye, Khiagdinskoye, Kolichikanskoye, Koretkondinskoye, Namaruskoye and Tetrakhskoye deposits, it added. The combined reserves of the Khiagda Ore Field's group of deposits are about 45,000 tonnes of uranium, it said.
Exploration work by FSUE Urangeo has meanwhile indicated that the Vitimsky Ore Region has about 350,000 tU, including about 250,000 tU suitable for ISL.
Verkhovtsev described Khiagda as the "most modern and promising enterprise" in Rosatom's mining division. About RUB23bn ($404m) has been invested so far, he said, adding that about RUB2bn billion be invested each year. Last year, 540tU were mined and this year 693tU will be produced, he said, and by 2019, JSC Khiagda will produce 1,000tU a year. The 2008 ARMZ plan envisaged production from JSC Khiagda's project increasing to 1,800 tU/yr by 2019, but in 2013 the higher target was postponed.