Acron Group’s initial large-scale USD 1.4-billion investment programme was adopted in 2005 to cover 2005-2015. The programme was subsequently expanded to USD 5 billion.
The key objectives of the investment programme are to upgrade current facilities to improve capacity, construct new processing facilities and develop new mining projects. From 2005 through 2013, the Group posted approximately USD 3 billion in CAPEX.
Novgorod-based Acron launched a project to construct 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 2012, capacity was increased to 750 ktpa, and further increased to 1 mtpa in 2014. In 2015, the Company’s output reached 841,000 tonnes of UAN. 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. In 2013, output at the new unit was 221,000 tonnes.
By 2016, the fifth unit of the urea shop produced 1 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 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 mtpa of UAN and 1 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 is being implemented in two stages. 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 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.
In 2016, the Company proceeded with the second stage of the project, construction of the underground mine. The Company plans to start underground mining in 2017, which will improve processing capacity to 1.7 mtpa of apatite concentrate, eventually reaching 2 mtpa. 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, AS DBT started constructing 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, AS DBT expanded the range and variety of transshipped cargoes it handles while ensuring quality and safety with separate storage. Costs incurred from this investment project totalled EUR 11 million.
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. With capacity of 700 ktpa (2,060 tpd) it is the most powerful and cost-effective operating unit in Russia. The new unit is much more efficient than the current ones: its rate of natural gas consumption is 938 m3/t, and the power consumption slightly exceeds 7 Gcal per tonne of ammonia (15% less than current units). The project is unique because it is the first ammonia unit since the break-up of the Soviet Union to be constructed by Russian experts without outsourcing foreign manpower. 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 technological streams of processed apatite concentrate. The operations are performed as a part of the sub-programme Rare and Rare-earth Metal Technologies of the Russian goverment programme to promote Industry Development and Its 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, first 20 tonnes of products were shipped to consumers.
At this stage, all of the finished products are shipped to the domestic market for producers of glass, catalysts for oil cracking and rubbers. REE are also used to manufacture alloys, magnets, and electronics, as well as by the defence industry. The goal of this Acron Group project is to create an independent base in Russia for rare-earth products. The project is supervised by the Science and Engineering Board on Rare Earths, headed by Academy of Sciences member Nikolay Laverov.