Acron Group’s Investment Programme

From 2005 through 2016, Acron Group pursued a large-scale investment programme with total CAPEX of approximately USD 3.5 billion. This investment programme focused on building a vertically integrated model based on own production of all three key inputs for complex fertilisers: nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. During this period, the Group was implementing the following key projects:
  • Oleniy Ruchey mine – phosphates production
  • Ammonia-4 – base for expanding production of nitrogen products
  • Talitsky mine – potash production
In 2014, the Oleniy Ruchey mine reached its design capacity extracting the ore from open pit. Ammonia-4 unit was put on stream in 2016. Implementation of Talitsky mine project was affected by changes in the global potash market environment. This project ceased to be a top priority for the Group but remained among its long-term interests.

In 2017, Acron Group presented an updated development strategy for the period through 2025 based on maximum use of the existing production potential. The new development programme includes a number of projects at Acron (Veliky Novgorod) and Dorogobuzh with relatively low CAPEX and short payback periods. The total estimated CAPEX for these projects is USD 651 million.

Most of the investments will be allocated to Dorogobuzh for construction of a new NPK/DAP/MAP production facility. Additionally, the capacity of the existing ammonia unit at Dorogobuzh will be increased to provide the new unit with feedstock. Acron (Veliky Novgorod) plans to construct three nitric acid units and expand AN, NPK and UAN units capacity. Additionally, a new urea unit will be constructed at the Acron site in Veliky Novgorod and two ammonia units will be upgraded to increase capacity.

The Group expects the following results from its new development programme:
  • Higher capacity and output
  • Higher margin due to processing excess ammonia and apatite concentrate

  • Finished Projects

    UAN Unit

    Novgorod-based Acron started construction of a new UAN (liquid nitrogen fertiliser urea-ammonium nitrate) unit at its site in 2006 and brought the 500-ktpa unit on stream in late 2007. In subsequent years, that capacity was repeatedly increased: to 750 ktpa in 2012, to 1.0 mtpa in 2014 and further to 1.1 mtpa in 2016. In 2016, Novgorod-based Acron produced its 5 millionth tonne of UAN.

    All told, Acron invested approximately USD 27 million in the project.

    Urea Unit (Urea-1000)

    The Company initiated construction of a new 350-ktpa urea unit (fifth unit) at its Novgorod site in 2008 and commissioned the unit in 2012. 

    By 2016, the fifth unit of the urea shop had produced 1.0 million tonnes of high-quality urea.

    The total investment in the project was USD 100 million.

    This unit brought aggregate urea capacity at the Novgorod-based Acron facility to 800 ktpa from 450 ktpa. The Company plans to eventually boost urea capacity to 1.0 mtpa.

    AS BCT Port Terminal Complex (Estonia)

    Construction of the port terminal facility for transshipment of liquid fertilisers (UAN and ammonia) at the Estonian port of Sillamäe started in 2006. In 2008, the terminal loaded its first vessel with Acron’s UAN, and the first ammonia was loaded in late 2009. The terminal has throughput capacity of 1.0 mtpa of UAN and 1.0 mtpa of ammonia.

    The total investment in the project was USD 100 million.

    Oleniy Ruchey Mine

    In 2006, Acron subsidiary North-Western Phosphorous Company obtained a licence to develop the apatite-nepheline ore at the Oleniy Ruchey deposit in Murmansk region. This project is part of Acron Group’s drive to vertically integrate production of the phosphates required for NPK fertilisers.

    This large-scale mine project was implemented through development of an open pit and an underground mine. Mine construction began in 2010 after completion of exploration and design work. In late 2012, the Company started producing apatite concentrate. In mid-2014, output reached the design capacity of 1.0 mtpa while the Company consumed the open pit ore. In 2015, the Oleniy Ruchey mine produced more than 1.1 million tonnes of apatite concentrate. Over 90% of the output was sold domestically, including to Acron Group companies.

    Ore extraction from the underground mine started in 2017. Over the next several years, the Company plans to gradually increase the mine’s output to 2.0 mtpa of apatite concentrate.

    The deposit’s lifetime is estimated at over 50 years.

    The total investment in the project will reach USD 1.1 billion, including the USD 900 million already spent.


    Construction of Dome-Shaped Warehouses at AS DBT Terminal Complex

    In summer 2012, DBT began construction of three new dome-shaped warehouses at its terminal complex under the DBT-V investment project. The up to 27,000-tonne warehouse capacity was commissioned in September 2013, resulting in a simultaneous warehouse capacity increase to 192,000 tonnes of bulk mineral fertilisers. With the new warehouses in service, DBT expanded the range and variety of transshipped cargoes it handles while ensuring quality and safety with separate storage.
    The Company invested a total of EUR 11 million in this project.

    Ammonia Unit (Ammonia-4)

    In 2014, Novgorod-based Acron entered the active phase of construction of a new large-capacity ammonia unit at its site. The unit was commissioned in 2016. Its initial design capacity was 700 ktpa, but in 2017, the unit’s capacity reached 780 ktpa. Ammonia-4 is the most powerful and cost-effective operating unit in Russia.
    The project is unique because it is the first ammonia unit since the breakup of the Soviet Union to be constructed by Russian experts without outsourcing workforce. The design documentation was drafted by the Russian design institute Novgorodsky GIAP.

    Project investments totalled USD 500 million.

    Rare Earth Elements

    Acron Group has completed a unique project involving apatite-nepheline ore processing to derive the rare earth elements cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, and light and heavy REE group concentrates from process streams of apatite concentrate. These operations are performed as a part of the sub-programme Rare and Rare-earth Metal Technologies of the Russian government programme to promote Industry Development and Competitive Growth. Currently, Acron has the only operations in Russia that separate REE concentrates into elements in industrial-scale volumes.

    The project was launched in 2010. Apatite concentrate from the Oleniy Ruchey mine in Murmansk region provides the raw material base for the process. This marks the first time that complex processing of apatite ores has been achieved in Russia. The annual capacity of REE operations is 200 tonnes of rare earth oxides. In 2015, the first 20 tonnes of products were shipped to consumers.

    At this stage, all of the finished products are shipped to the domestic market for use in glass production, as catalysts for oil cracking and in the rubber industry. REE are also used to manufacture alloys, magnets, and electronics, as well as by the defence industry. The goal of this project is to create an independent base in Russia for rare-earth products. The project was overseen by the Science and Engineering Board on Rare Earths, headed by Academy of Sciences member Nikolay Laverov.

    Acron invested a total of USD 50 million in the project, which has created 100 jobs.

    Projects in Progress

    Projects at Acron (Veliky Novgorod) Site

    Projects Period of
    Output Increase,
    Construction of urea unit No. 6 2017 - 2018 213
    Construction of three nitric acid units and increase in capacity of AN, NPK and UAN units’ 2017 - 2019 AN: 374
    NPK: 205
    UAN: 114
    Increase in Ammonia-4 capacity 2017 – 2019 71
    Increase in Ammonia-3 capacity 2019 – 2020 128
    Construction of urea formaldehyde concentrate unit and amino resins line 2019 - 2021 82

    Projects at Dorogobuzh Site

    Projects Period of
    Output Increase,
    Increase in ammonia unit capacity 2017 - 2019 130
    Increase in NPK capacity 2017 - 2019 135
    Construction of NPK/DAP/MAP production line 2017 – 2020 up to 913

    Talitsky Mine

    In 2008, Acron subsidiary Verkhnekamsk Potash Company obtained a licence to explore and develop the Talitsky area of the Verkhnekamsk potassium-magnesium salt deposit in Perm Krai. The project is part of Acron Group’s vertical integration drive to create an independent potassium base for NPK fertilisers.

    In 2008-2011, the Company conducted research and geological exploration in the Talitsky area. In 2012, VPC obtained Glavgosexpertiza approval for the first stage of project documentation: shaft construction. In November 2012, VPC obtained construction approval and commenced preparations to construct skip and cage shafts. In 2013, the Company finished drilling freezing holes for subsequent shaft sinking. In 2014, VPC completed assembly of the equipment for the freezing plant, commissioned the administrative building and launched the main step-down substation. In 2015, the Company obtained Glavgosexpertiza approval for the Talitsky mine’s second stage: the underground mine. In 2016, approval was given for the project’s third stage: construction of surface facilities. Additionally, in 2016 the subsoil licence for the Talitsky area was amended to extend the licence term to 2053.

    The Talitsky mine has design capacity of 2.0 mtpa of potassium chloride with further expansion to 2.6 mtpa. Investment in the project totals approximately USD 2.7 billion (including the cost of the licence).