Photo: Rosrubmash

Miners drill in Novaya Zemlya, prepare for opening of new pit

About 100 workers are drilling 45 exploration wells in the remote Arctic Pavlovsky license area.
August 07, 2020


It is Rusburmash, a subsidiary of nuclear power company Rosatom, that this summer unfolds major exploration activities in the far northern archipelago of Novaya Zemlya.

The drilling is part of preparations for launch of the Pavlovsky mine, a project that is to become one of Russia’s biggest sources of zinc and lead.

By 1st June, about 100 workers had been moved to the license area together with four drilling rigs and various other equipment.


Drilling in Novaya Zemlya. Photo: Rosrubmash


The Pavlovsky area is located on the southern of the two islands in Novaya Zemlya, about 17 km away from the Bezimyannaya Bay.

Housing facilities for the workers have been built by the Bezimyannaya Bay, as well as inland by the field area, Rusburmash informs.


A total of 45 wells are to be drilled in the course of summer. Activities will continue until October.

The exploration drilling is to help enhance the attractibility of the project and raise interest among investors, says Igor Semyonov, General Director of the First Mining Company.

It is to help developers find the ultimate technical decisions for the project and reduce capital investments, he says in a comment.


Getting around in the Pavlovsky license area. Photo: Rosrubmash


It is the First Mining Company that is project developer of the Pavlovsky mine. The subsidiary company has since the field discovery in 2001 been engaged in project development. The opening of the project was originally to take place in 2019, but has now been postponed to 2023.

Included in the project is the building of a new seaport in the nearby Bezimyannaya Bay. It will reportedly have capacity to handle up to 500,000 tons of goods per year.

The Pavlovsky mine holds an estimated 2,48 million tons of zink and 549,000 tons of lead. The mine is projected to deliver up to 3,5 million tons of ore per year. Included in the project is a processing plant with annual production capacity of 220,000 tons of zinc and 47,000 tons of lead concentrates.

Novaya Zemlya is closed military area strictly controlled by the Russian Armed Forces.

Between 1973 and 1975, the southern island of Novaya Zemlya was used for larger underground nuclear tests. Of the seven detonations that took place in the area, several ventilated radioactive gases to the atmosphere because the explosions were not deep enough in the ground.

From 1976 to 1990, all underground nuclear tests took place at the northern test-range in the Matochin Straight. Since 1990, only so-called sub-critical nuclear tests have been conducted at Novaya Zemlya. 



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