Nornickel and Rosatom JV Polar Lithium receives right to develop Russia’s largest lithium deposit

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. The project, located in the country’s northwest Murmansk Region, will produce 45,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate and hydroxide per year.

The Kolmozerskoye deposit is characterized by a complex composition of rare metal raw materials and is a source of lithium, tantalum, niobium, beryllium, tin and cesium. The deposit is one of the large deposits of spodumene rare-metal pegmatites. According to various estimates, it may contain from 19 to 25% of all Russian lithium reserves.

The partners plan to establish a complete, integrated production facility that spans from mining and processing to high-tech products, creating more than 1,000 new jobs and reducing Russia’s dependence on imported lithium and battery components. The auction for the Kolmozerskoye exploration and mining license was conducted by Russia’s Federal Agency for Subsoil Resources Management, with a starting bid of RUB 1.56 billion (US$21.6 million) and a 20-year subsoil use period.

The Kolmozerskoye project is perfectly timed to meet the growing demand for lithium in electric vehicles and energy storage industries. 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.

Sergey Stepanov, Nornickel Senior Vice President — Operational Director, states: “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“.

Igor Demidov, CEO of Polar Lithium, states: “Kolmozerskoye, discovered in 1947, is Russia’s most promising lithium deposit and includes minerals such as lithium, beryllium, niobium and tantalum. 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“.

Since June 2022, Nornickel has been consulting with the Sami people, local communities, public organizations and reindeer herding farms about the Kolmozerskoye project. In February 2023, taking into account the experience gained from the Taimyr Indigenous Peoples Support and Development Program, based on the company’s policy on the rights of indigenous peoples, Nornickel will continue consultations on an ethnological survey. The company also plans to propose the application of the Free Prior Informed Consent procedure to the indigenous peoples of the Murmansk Region for the project’s development.

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