The Pavlovskoye deposit is located near the western shores of Novaya Zemlya in the Russian Arctic. Map: Barents Observer / Google Earth

Amid sanctions, Rosatom drops plan to build Arctic floating mine processing plant

Rosatom’s subsidiary First Ore Mining Company can’t get needed equipment from Finland and will instead build its own onshore processing plant for the Pavlovskoye mine at Novaya Zemlya.
April 18, 2023


It was in 2020, Rosatom’s mining company said it would be easiest, safest and most cost-efficient to place all needed equipment on a huge barge and have it as a floating processing plant for the ore to be extracted from the Pavlovsky project.

The barge was designed by Aker Arctic in Helsinki, while the supply of equipment was to come from Mesto Outotec. The Finnish company Warsila was supposed to build the onboard power plant.

With the full-scale war on Ukraine, new sanctions were introduced and none of the needed equipment will be exported from Finland to Russia.

Due to Western sanctions, the First Mining Company has abandoned the floating version of the mining and processing plant for the Pavlovsky deposit on the southern island of Novaya Zemlya, company spokesperson Natalya Potapova told Vedomosti.

Instead, the mining company is forced to create a new concept for developing the field, Potapova added.

She did not provide any details on how the new concept would be but said there is no information about any postponement for commissioning the mining operations, which according to its license should be started by December 1, 2024.

Although never made for northern mining projects, the concept of barge-mounted plants for Arctic industrial development is not unique. Novatek’s upcoming giant Arctic LNG 2 plant for the Ob Bay in Siberia will be for the most be built on barges at the Kola Yard in Belokamenka near Murmansk. When ready, the barges with all high-tech gas processing plants are to be towed across the Barents- and Kara Seas and moored at the eastern shores of the Ob Bay on the Gydan Peninsula.


Building everything on a barge is simply much easier than bringing north all construction equipment and highly skilled personnel. 

With no barge, it is also unclear what power unit will be built for the project.

Previously, Rosatom hinted at the possibility to use a small-power reactor to provide energy to the Pavlosky mining complex.

The mining area is about 12 km2, located in the Bezymyansky river basin on the western shores of the southern island of Novaya Zemlya.

About 50 km to the north, in the mountains along the Matochkin Strait, is Russia’s main testing ground for nuclear weapons. The last real nuclear warheads were tested here in October 1990. Since then, the tunnels have been used for sub-critical nuclear tests.

According to the First Mining Company, the Pavlovsky field can deliver up to 47,000 tons of lead and 223,000 tons of zinc concentrates annually.


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