Projects financed by the EDB
Commercial development of the Voskhod Chromite Deposit
Presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan launched the mining and process works at the Voskhod deposit
The global growth in ferrous metallurgy has resulted in significant and sustained demand for chromium since the beginning of the 21st century. This metal is widely used because of its chemical properties – its ability to withstand heat, hardness and corrosion resistance.
The project has improved the socioeconomic climate in Kazakhstan’s Aktobe Region by training personnel, creating a pool of qualified specialists, generating tax revenue and improving infrastructure in Khromtau.
Chromium’s unique properties and wide variety of applications, and the growing demand for this metal, have created a need to develop new deposits and increase the production of ferrochrome (an alloy of chrome and iron).
In October 2006 the British company Oriel Resources Plc asked EDB to invest in and arrange an international consortium to fund the development of the Voskhod chromium deposit in Aktobe Region, Kazakhstan.
Oriel Resources Plc was set up in 2003 to develop metal ore deposits in Russia, the CIS, and Eastern Europe. The shareholders of this company were Russian, Kazakh and international institutional and private investors.
In 2004 Oriel Resources Plc was licensed to develop Voskhod, which is one of the largest and richest chromite deposits in the world, with proven reserves of over 19.5 million tons of ore with a chromium content of over 40%. One of Voskhod’s advantages is that its ore can be extracted with low-cost methods.
Oriel estimated that developing the deposit and the design capacity of the mining and processing works would generate ore processing capacity of about 1.5 million tonnes per year, and chromium concentrate production of 900,000 tonnes per year. The company thus expected to become one of the top three global suppliers of this material.
In 2004-2006, Oriel Resources Plc was constructing the Tikhvin Ferroalloy Plant in Leningrad Region, Russia, which has a capacity of up to 185,000 tonnes of ferroalloys per year. The rapid and efficient development of Voskhod would feed the plant with its key raw material, since 40% of the chromium concentrate produced at Voskhod was intended for Tikhvin.
In December 2006, EDB and German banks West LB AG and Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank AG signed a US $120 million loan agreement for the development of the deposit with Voskhod-Oriel LLP, a subsidiary of Oriel Resources Plc in Kazakhstan. The financing provided by EDB totalled US $60 million, with a repayment period of ten years.
EDB also became the security agent for the borrower in Kazakhstan. This allowed closing the transaction in the shortest time – two months after the project initiator had submitted its application
In July 2007 EDB provided the first instalment of US $40 million to Voskhod Oriel and in late 2007 the second instalment of US $20 million. So, EDB fully discharged its obligations to finance the project within a year of entering into the loan agreement
This helped Voskhod-Oriel to successfully complete the construction of the mining and processing works. The company quickly arranged the supply and installation of equipment, resolved organisational and personnel issues and put all necessary health and safety procedures in place.
The plant uses state-of-the-art mining methods and technology. Ore is excavated using ramp access and the sub level caving method, with simultaneous sinking and walling, and is carried to the surface automatically. This dramatically increases work efficiency, lowers the prime cost of ore, and improves profitability.
The mining and processing works and the mine were built by South Africa’s DRA and Australia’s CAM, world’s leading miners.
On 22 September 2008 the mining and processing works were formally commissioned at an official opening ceremony at the Voskhod deposit. President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the launch of the new Voskhod complex during a live link-up with Khromtau.
The project has strengthened Kazakhstan’s position in the global chromium market and had a positive impact on the Russian and Kazakh economies, not least because it provides long-term and stable supplies of feedstock for the metallurgical industry, boosting production of stainless and other special steels. Demand for these products is growing rapidly in Russia, Kazakhstan and beyond.
The project has created around 500 new jobs Another 850 jobs were created at the Tikhvin Ferroalloy Plant for which Voskhod has become a key raw material supplier.
Because it increases mutual trade revenues and investment flow between Russia and Kazakhstan, the project also has the integration effect. Goods supplied by the Voskhod deposit to Russia contribute to the flow of goods between Russia and Kazakhstan, and are worth approximately US $50 million a year.
Voskhod was among the first large multilateral greenfield projects in Kazakhstan with the involvement of the Russian and Kazakh capital.
Project Finance magazine named the Voskhod project a European Mining Deal of the Year 2006. Moreover, EDB received an award from Euromoney as project arranger.
In May 2008, as the project was in its final phase, a leading Russian mining and metallurgical company Mechel purchased the mining and production assets (including Voskhod-Oriel) from Oriel Resources Plc.