A planned new Russian Arctic gold mine would be run on nuclear power

The Kyuchus field is located near Tiksi, on the coast of the Laptev Sea.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - October 12, 2021
A new gold mine planned for Kyuchus, near Tiksi, would be powered by a nuclear power plant. (Atle Staalesen / The Independent Barents Observer)

The Kyuchus field, located near Tiksi on Russia’s Laptev Sea coast, is believed to hold more than 175 tons of gold and could soon become one of the country’s largest gold mining projects.Its development includes the building of a nuclear power station.

The field license was this week offered to company Beloye Zoloto, the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources informs. The company won a tender in competition with five other bidders.

Beloye Zoloto will pay 7.74 billion rubles (€93 million) for the license, a price more than three times the initial tender price set by state mineral resource agency Rosnedra.

The license winner is a joint venture of state company Rostekhnologiya and holding company Seligdar. The latter holds more than 30 gold mining licenses across the country, and most of them in the north Russian regions of Yakutia and Chukotka, the company said on its website.

The Kyuchus field is located in an area without existing infrastructure, including electricity grids, and the building of a small-scale nuclear power station was part of the license criteria. The plant will have a production capacity of at least 35 MW and is to be ready for operations by year 2028.

It will not the first small-scale nuclear power station developed by Russia. The floating nuclear power plant Akademik Lomonosov is located in Pevek on the coast of the East Siberian Sea. State nuclear power company Rosatom also intends to build several more floating nuclear power plants in the Chukotka Peninsula in connection with several mining projects in the area. There are also plans for a number of other nuclear projects, among them seabed- and onshore mini-reactors, as well as nuclear-powered military weapons.

Gold from Kyuchus is likely to be exported via the seaport of Tiksi and the Northern Sea Route.

Gold mining is conducted in several other places across the Russian Arctic. That includes in the far northern Bolshevik Island, where company Sezar-Arktika has several mining licenses.