The government of the Karelian Republic declared a tender among uranium mining companies to start exploration of the Srednyaya Padma uranium deposit located on Zaonezhsky Peninsula at the Onega Lake. The results of the tender launched on June 22 this year are due by October 15.
Zaonezhsky Peninsula has five uranium deposits and ten sites containing uranium-vanadium ores.
The current uranium production in Russia is around 2,500 tons per year in addition to 1,000 tons produced from enrichment tailings. However, it is estimated that Russia will need to produce 4,500 tons by 2005. Along with Karelia, prospecting for new commercial deposits is under way in western Siberia and the southern Urals. Only the lack of funding can hamper exploration.
Russia’s only uranium mine, the Priargunsky Mining and Chemical Combine in Chita County, Siberia, consists of a deep ore mine and an open cast uranium mine as well as a hydrometallurgy plant for uranium processing. The mill has a capacity of 4,000 tons per year, but the production has fallen to 2,500 tons per year.
Back in autumn 1996, Victor Mikhailov, at that time head of the Ministry for Atomic Energy, announced that Russia planned to increase its uranium production to 10,000 tons in the coming years, by opening new mines. The Karelian project will apparently mark the beginning of the implementation of this plan.