Thanks Linda, the deal is very old news - the Rusal, Sual, Glencore one.
Some huge Russian fertiliser companies want to extract REEs and RMs as well. They could be the ones to get Orbite licensing?
Russia’s largest agrochemical producers are expanding in the market of rare earth metals. Following Acron, one of the world’s largest producers of fertilizers, which announced its plans to invest about $25 million in the production of rare earth metals from apatite concentrate, another local agrochemical major Phosagro has recently declared its intention to start production of rare earth metals from phosphogypsum.
The project is expected to be implemented by Phosagro in cooperation with the Belgian Prayon, which is expected to provide the needed production technologies for the project, in return for a share of profit from the project.
According to plans of the partners, the production facility with the capacity of 25,000 tons of phosphogypsum per year will be lauched by the end of the current month.
Currently Prayon is completing a series of researches, aimed at the developing of a new technology to extract rare earth elements contained in phosphogypsum, which will be tested at the joint project with Phosagro.
Russian analysts belive that the project will be beneficial for both partners. In case of Phosagro, it will allow the company to start activities in the new direction, while for Prayon to establish cooperation with a company, which operates rich raw materials base, in particular apatite concentrate.
Phosagro is not the only Russian company, which expressed its interest in the production of rare earth elements. In April this year its intention to invest $25 million in the capacities for extracting rare earth metals from apatite concentrate were also announced by its local rival Acron. It is planned that the pilot plant will be launched in 2013. The capacity of the new production line will be 200 tonnes.
At the moment,Russia has the world’s second largest reserves of rare earth metals (which are estimated at 20% of the world’s total reserves), the majority of which are located in the Russian part ofArctic and in particular in the Khibiny and Lovozero massifs.
Despite large reserves the production of rare earth metals in the country remains practically underdeveloped. So far, the country has had only one producer of rare earth metals – Solikamsk magnesium plant. The production of products with REM inRussiaremains also extremely low.
At the same time there is a possibility that much can change in the future, as in recent years many local potential investors have announced their intention to launch activities in this field.
For instance, in addition to Phosagro and Acron about its plans to start the productiuon of REM through the potential acquisition of Solikamsk magnesium plant has been recently announced by ARMZ Uranium Holding Co., Russia’s largest uranium producer.
One of the distinguished features of the Russian industry of rare earth metals remains the fact that many of Russian companie, having access to such metals, simply ignore them and do not invest in their development.
For example, Apatite, another leading Russian producer of fertilizers, operate a large number of such fields in the Murmanskregion, but prefers to focus on the production of agrochemicals. The same situation is currently observed with Acron.
Fortunately, there is a possibility that the development and production of rare earth metals may also become one of the priority goals of the Russian government in the near future.
This is reflected by recently annouced state plans to develop and adopt a federal program of the production of rare earth metals in Russia. The draft of the program is expected to be presented for consideration of Russia’s prime-minister Dmitry Medvedev by 1 February 2013.
One of the main industry goals, which is expected to be set in the new federal program is the increase ofRussia’s share in the world’s total production of REM up to 10% by 2020.