Siberian rare earth minerals deposits to be developed 50 years after discovery

IST owner, billionaire Alexander Nesis

Siberian rare earth minerals: 50 years after one of the world’s largest rare earth minerals deposits was discovered in Russia’s Far East, plans are now finally under way for the site’s development. The deposits were discovered in 1959 at Tomtor in East Siberia’s Sakha Republic, some 4,000 km north east of Vladivostok, at a time there was neither the market or the technology to develop the site. But with rare earth minerals now commonly used in car catalytic converters, wind power generators, phosphors for flat screen televisions, LED lighting, high strength magnets, and a range of chemicals, the TriArk Mining joint venture that was set up two  years ago by Rostec’s Site Ke Group Group and Russian billionaire Alexander Nesis’s IST Group has now begun geological exploration.
The first ores are expected to be recovered by 2020.  China is currently by far and away the world’s dominant producer of rare earth elements – in 2013 it produced 100,000 metric tons (MT) compared to second-placed US’s 4,000 MT  –  and TriArk plans to use the deposits both to compete in international markets and to meet growing domestic demand. “Russia’s problem is that the products that use REM are mostly imported,” says  Dr Alexander Tolstov, a senior fellow of the Institute of Geology and Mineralogy of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, “but the  government is predicting that [Russia] will  be using  9-15,000 MT by 2020. We need our own source….and at those levels of consumption, the Tomtor deposits can keep us supplied for hundreds of years.”