Agreement to develop small nuclear plant to supply power to Sovinoye goldfields

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An agreement has been signed to develop a small nuclear power plant (SNPP) to provide environment-friendly and stable power to the Sovinoye gold deposit in the Chukotka region located on the north-eastern tip of Eurasia in the Russian Far East.  

The agreement, reached at the Eastern Economic Forum held at Vladivostok, Russia, in September 2023, was signed between two subsidiaries of the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom – its mining division Atomredmetzoloto and Rosatom’s integrator for small nuclear plants, RAOS.  

A Rosatom statement said the agreement provides for implementing a small nuclear power plant project based on the advanced reactor “Shelf-M technology with power of up to 10 MW, which is considered to be an efficient solution to satisfy the need for power supply of the Sovinoye deposit as well as the adjacent promising ore fields and the residential settlement of Leningradsky.” 

RAOS is involved in several projects to develop and deploy SNPPs for remote regions and industrial applications, such as the Shelf-M project for the Sovinoye gold deposit in Chukotka, and the RITM-200M small modular reactor project for the Arctic region. 

The Shelf-M reactor has been developed by the Rosatom subsidiary Nikiet.  

“The service life of the plant is 60 years, and the reactor is operated for approximately eight years without refuelling. The reactor thermal output is 35 MW enabling to generate up to 10 MW of electric power,” the statement said. 

“It is planned to complete the basic design of the reactor facility and the main process equipment in 2024. The SNPP based on Shelf-M reactor is planned to be commissioned for commercial operation in 2030,” it added.  

“We are looking for an efficient and environmentally friendly power supply for the needs of the Sovinoye gold deposit. The SNPP project ideally suits these criteria. I am sure that our cooperation will contribute to unlocking the economic and investment potential of the Chukotka region and the entire Far East of Russia,” Atomredmetzoloto Director General Vladimir Verkhovtsev said in a statement. 

The Sovinoye deposit, situated on the coast of the Chukchi Sea within the territory of Iultin District, was discovered in the 1970s and is a centre of the gold-bearing zone where more than 30 fields of alluvial and vein gold have been found. 

Rosatom said that it signed the agreement for an SNPP based on Shelf-M reactor technology with the government of the Chukotka Autonomous District in June 2023.   

There are two small low-capacity nuclear power plants operating in the remote Chukotka region, their total installed capacity making up 31 percent of the region’s total generation.  

The world’s only floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) – Akademik Lomonosov – currently supplies both electricity and heat to the city of Pevek in the Chukotka region.