The Baimskaya copper project located in the Chukotka region of Russia is one of the biggest undeveloped copper deposits in the world.
GDK Baimskaya, a wholly-owned subsidiary of KAZ Minerals, is developing the open-pit project with an estimated investment of £6.3bn ($8.5bn).
A copper miner based in Kazakhstan, KAZ Minerals acquired 75% of the Baimskaya copper project from Aristus Holdings for $675m in January 2019 and the remaining 25% for $225m in May 2021.
While a pre-feasibility study (PFS) of the project was conducted in 2017, KAZ Minerals completed a bankable feasibility study (BFS) in September 2021.
The Baimskaya project is scheduled to commence production in 2027. It is expected to produce 300,000 tonnes (t) of copper and 490,000 ounces (oz) of gold a year during the initial ten years of operation. The mine life is estimated to be more than 20 years.
Location, geology, and mineralisation
The Baimskaya copper project is located in the Bilibinskiy district, Chukotka, in north-east Siberia, Russia.
The project targets the Peschanka gold-copper-molybdenum porphyry deposit situated within the central part of the Baimskaya metallogenic zone. Discovered in 1972, the Peschanka deposit forms part of the Yegdegkychsky massif, which is a Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous intrusive complex.
The porphyry mineralisation is found hosted within and around stockwork quartz veins, with bornite and chalcopyrite being the main copper ore minerals of the deposit.
Copper and gold reserves at Baimskaya
The Baimskaya copper project is estimated to hold 2.5 billion tonnes (Bt) of mineral resources containing 9.9 million tonnes (Mt) of copper and 16.6 million ounces (Moz) of gold.
Mining and ore processing
Conventional open-pit mining method, involving drill, blast, load and haul operations, will be deployed to extract ore from the Baimskaya mine.
The overburden waste from the mine will be sent to west rock dump sites, while the run-of-the-mine (ROM) ore will be transported to a nearby processing facility.
The ore will undergo crushing, grinding, and floatation to produce copper and gold concentrates. The concentrator plant will have a capacity to process 70Mt of ore a year.
The waste product from the concentrator plant will be sent to a tailings storage facility (TSF) located in the Peschanka-Yegdegkych River valley.
A 428km-long all-weather road will be constructed to transport copper concentrate from the mine site to a new port at Cape Nagleynyn. The construction of the new port facility is expected to be completed by 2026.
Other auxiliary facilities at the mine site will include construction and operations camps, water supply systems, sewage treatment plants, fuel and explosive storage facilities, workshops, a helicopter pad, and a 110kV electricity supply and distribution system.
Nuclear power for the Baimskaya mine
GDK Baimskaya and Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) entered an agreement to jointly develop a nuclear power generation project to supply carbon-free electricity to the Baimskaya copper mine and processing complex in July 2021.
Further, GDK Baimskaya signed a preliminary agreement with Rosatom’s subsidiary Atomflot for the supply of electricity to the Baimskaya project in September 2021.
Atomflot will supply four optimised floating power units (OFPUs) of 106MW capacity each for the project. The first two units are expected to be commissioned in the water area of Cape Nagleynyn by 2027, while the remaining two units are planned for commissioning in 2028 and 2031, respectively.
Contractors involved in the Russian copper project
Fluor was appointed as the lead contractor for the BFS of the Baimskaya copper project. It was also responsible for the delivery of the PFS of the project in 2017.
Ecoline Environmental Assessment Centre (Ecoline EA Centre), a consulting company based in Moscow, Russia, and South Africa-based SE Solutions jointly prepared the environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) report for the project.
Rosatom’s mining division Rusburmash has been engaged to perform engineering and geological surveys for the Baimskaya copper project since May 2021.
Kaimakliotis, a law firm based in Cyprus, advised KAZ Minerals on the acquisition of the Baimskaya copper project.