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Russian authorities approve phase 2 of Elga coal project

Russia’s state expert review office Glavgosexpertiza has approved the construction of facilities for the second phase of operations at the huge Elga coking coal deposit, which will make it possible to expand production to 45 million tonnes per year, the office said in a statement on Thursday.

The company mining the deposit, Elegaugol produced more than 20 million tonnes of coal in 2022, so the second phase will increase output by about 130%. The current project calls for developing the northwest section of the Elga deposit. The website of Elsi, the company that manages the coal assets of tycoon Albert Avdolyan, said that production at Elga will already increase to 45 million tonnes in 2023.

The second phase of surface operations will involve two simultaneous excavations, western and northern, using high-performance mining and transport equipment, the statement said. Their maximum depth when design capacity of 45 million tonnes per year is reached will be 315 and 200 meters, respectively.

Mining conditions at Elga are complicated by the fact that more than 90% of the field’s area is covered in permafrost, the thickness of which ranges from 30-40 to 250-270 meters depending on the topography. Project solutions take into account the current overburden removal method that allows access to new working horizons of the coal mine.

Elga is the largest coking coal deposit in Russia and one of the largest in the world, with JORC compliant reserves of about 2.2 billion tonnes. Production at Elga increased by 26.5% to more than 20 million tonnes in 2022.

The Pacific railway is being built to ship 30 million tonnes of coal per year from the deposit to the Elga port being built on the coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, near the town of Chumikan in Khabarovsk Territory. The estimated cost of the port and railway, which are scheduled for completion in 2024-2025, is 146.6 billion rubles.