MOSCOW (Reuters) – A company owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov is in talks to raise $1.25 billion from Russian banks by the start of 2019 to build a massive mining and metallurgical plant at Russia’s biggest untapped copper deposit, its chairman said.
Large greenfield projects in Russia’s energy and mining sector slowed after Russia was hit by Western sanctions four years ago, limiting the economy’s access to foreign finance, but some of the bigger projects are now being revived with home-grown financing.
Usmanov’s Baikal Mining Company, operator of the Udokan copper deposit, is betting on strong global appetite for the metal, which many expect to be in demand for use in electric vehicles.
“Russia’s largest banks have expressed interest in our project,” Baikal Mining Company Chairman Valery Kazikayev told Reuters, adding that the progress in talks had been especially good with one of them.
With total reserves of 26.7 million tonnes of copper, Udokan is one of the biggest untapped deposits in the world. However, it remained virgin since its discovery in 1949 due to lack of technology for its unique and difficult-to-extract ore.