Shelf-M project being developed for Sovinoye gold deposit

14 September 2023

Rosatom's mining division Atomredmetzoloto JSC and RAOS JSC have signed an agreement to cooperate on plans for a Shelf-M small nuclear power plant project at the Sovinoye gold deposit in Chukotka in Russia's far east.

The SHELF-M reactor concept (Image: Rosatom)

The agreement covers cooperation for the implementation for a project based on the Shelf-M reactor, with power of up to 10 MWe, to supply the Sovinoye gold deposit "as well as the adjacent promising ore fields and the residential settlement of Leningradsky", Rosatom said.

The Shelf-M reactor has been developed by NIKIET JSC based on its experience with marine nuclear reactor designs. The service life of a plant would be 60 years, with refuelling every eight years, and according to the 2022 edition of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Advances in Small Modular Reactor Technology Developments, needs only 15 members of staff present during normal operation.

Vladimir Verkhovtsev, director general of Atomredmetzoloto JSC, said that the small nuclear power plant project meets the criteria of an efficient and environmentally-friendly power supply for the gold deposit, adding: "I am sure that our cooperation will contribute to unlocking the economic and investment potential of Chukotka region and the entire far east of Russia."

RAOS president, Evgeny Pakermanov, said: "We are very happy to join efforts with the mining division of Rosatom to implement the advanced nuclear generation projects that open up new opportunities for the socio-economic development of the Chukotka remote areas rich in natural resources."

He said that with their partners they would design the project, including "the external infrastructure, carry out the necessary engineering and survey work at potential construction sites, and consider the possibility of securing state support for the project". The technical designs of the reactor plant and the main equipment are expected to be completed by 2024 and the plan is for it to be in commercial operation by 2030.

Rosatom and the government of the Chukotka Autonomous District signed the cooperation agreement for a nuclear power plant based on Shelf-M reactor technology in June. Developing such land-based small/micro nuclear power plants for remote territories is part of a Russian government project.

The Sovinoye gold deposit is on the coast of the Chukchi Sea, in Iultin District. It was discovered in the 1970s and in 2020 the Atomredmetzoloto subsidiary ELKON MMP purchased the licence to survey, explore and mine the deposit.

The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the VIII Eastern Economic Forum, which has been taking place this week.

Also during the forum, Rosatom director general Alexei Likhachev said the company was ready to expand its projects in Russia's far east. He cited the launch in Chukotka of the floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov and said that as well as the construction of "four floating power units for Baimsky Mining and Processing Plant we see the need for up to 15 floating power units in the Arctic. The prospects for development of low-power land-based NPPs as well as large-scale nuclear generation in the region are obvious".

And Konstantin Beirit, president of Seligdar Polymetallic Holding, said its two strategic projects "the tin field of Pyrkakayskye Stockworks in Chukotka and the gold field of Kyuchus in the Republic of Sakha (also known as Yakutia) are directly connected with functioning of the operating floating NPP Akademik Lomonosov and the world's first land-based small nuclear power plant under construction".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News