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Rosatom Plans Stunning Array of Projects for Arctic Development

April 2, 2017 (EIRNS)—During the just-concluded international forum, "The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue," Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachev presented a stunning array of projects that his agency has proposed, spanning energy, mining and environmental protection, Sputnik reported today. As this article by the Russian news service makes clear, Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear corporation, is truly "on the front lines of Moscow’s Arctic expansion."

Among the many projects outlined, one of the largest involves the building of a major new industrial cluster on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago for mining and processing of lead and zinc ores. At the forum, Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ), Rosatom’s mining division, signed an agreement with the Arkhangelsk Region’s government dealing with several aspects of the project. As Sputnik explains, once completed, Novaya Zemlya will be the largest mining and processing plant in the Arctic, processing about 220,000 tons of zinc and 50,000 tons of lead concentrate per year, plus 16 tons of silver. It is expected to begin operations in 2021 or 2022, with an investment of $479 million. Rostom’s Likhachev reported that there is great interest in the project’s output from both domestic and foreign buyers, and a number of preliminary agreements have already be signed.

There was extensive discussion at the Arctic forum on the building of new nuclear icebreakers, which will strengthen Russia’s leadership in the Arctic. Sputnik reports that the St. Petersburg Baltic Shipyard is building a series of three universal nuclear icebreakers, the LK-60Ya, the first of which, when commissioned in 2019, will become the world’s largest and most powerful icebreaker, at 33,500 tons. It will escort convoys through the the Arctic’s very challenging maritime conditions, allowing cargo vessels to carry hydrocarbons from fields in the Yamal and Gydan peninsulas to the Kara Sea, or even Asian markets. The other two ships will be delivered in late 2020 and 2021. Discussion is already underway on construction of another, 55,600-ton icebreaker, the LK-110Ya, the Leader, which when completed in 2019, will allow for year-round Arctic navigation.

Add to this the plan to build floating nuclear plants, intended to ensure a stable source of electricity for a range of Arctic development projects.

Rosatom also has its own "Program for Innovative Development and Technological Modernization to 2020," whose purpose is to increase the efficiency in construction and operation of facilities being built in the Arctic, in the energy, transport and communications infrastructure sectors "through the use of new technologies," Sputnik reports.