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Acron Reviews its Ore Base Development Prospects

Acron held an extended meeting of its Technical Committee to review its ore base development strategy for uninterrupted and sustainable utilisation of apatite concentrate processing capacity, and secure apatite concentrate supplies for its mineral fertiliser facilities in 2013-2020.

The meeting was attended by Acron’s management, experts from North-Western Phosphorous Company, as well as representatives from contracting organisations engaged in engineering and scientific research: Giproruda and the Mining Institute of the Kola Science Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which are participating in drafting design documentation for mining the Group’s deposits.

NWPC’s primary task is to expand output at the Oleniy Ruchey mine, commissioned in May 2012, from 3 to 3.5 mtpa of ore. The Company’s experts have also been elaborating a project for accelerated commissioning in 2016 of a pilot section of the underground mine that is currently under construction. This will secure up to 4.5 mtpa of ore for the second stage capacity of the processing plant prior to the underground mine coming on stream and mine capacity reaching 6 mtpa by 2020.

Development of the Partomchorr deposit was another key issue reviewed by the Technical Committee. While the construction project for the Partomchorr underground mine was approved by Glavgosexpertiza in 2011 and NWPC obtained a construction licence, the Company cannot start construction since it has no authorisation to build a road to transport ore to the processing plant at the Oleniy Ruchey mine through the territory of the Khibiny national park, which is being developed.

Several working groups were established to choose an optimal routing option to connect the two deposits. These groups included representatives of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation, Murmansk regional administration, NWPC, and scientific research and environmental organisations. NWPC proposed a layout crossing the future park. This option triggered protests by environmentalists and recreational park users. Over the course of protracted discussions, it was resolved to go back to the initial deposit development plan, which provides for construction of a full-scale mine with its own processing plant and transportation of apatite concentrate directly to the railroad without affecting the national park.

NWPC was initially planning to construct a complete cycle mine at the Partomchorr deposit, but due to environmental concerns and close proximity to the Simbozersky nature preserve, in 2009 the Central Committee for Solid Mineral Deposits Development of Rosnedra recommended that the Company only construct the underground mine and transport ore to its Oleniy Ruchey facility for processing. In light of these circumstances and for the public benefit of the Khibiny national park, Acron Group is ready to reconsider construction of mine facilities with an independent processing plant and underground mine in the Partomchorr deposit area. These issues notwithstanding, NWPC needs a way to deliver machinery, equipment and staff to the construction site, which requires a road to be built through the future national park. The road will not be used for commercial purposes and will subsequently contribute to the national park’s infrastructure.