Diamond Arch of Belgorkhimprom
Belgorkhimprom has been in the potash industry for half a century already
Belgorkhimprom has been in the potash industry
for half a century already
Mr Shemet, in 2010 your company and the Turkmenchemistry state concern signed a contract to construct a potash plant in Turkmenistan. This is a landmark project both for the company that was previously engaged mainly in design projects and for the entire national economy, because the contract is estimated at $1 billion. What is the status of the project? What has already been done?
The contract between Belgorkhimprom and the Turkmenchemistry state concern envisages the turnkey construction of a mining and processing plant near the Garlyk deposit of potassium salts. The complex will be located in Lebap Oblast of Turkmenistan and will produce 1.4 million tonnes of potassium chloride per year. Our company will be responsible for the scientific and design part, as well as for all construction and installation works, equipment purchase and delivery, and commissioning of the plant. Three years after the plant becomes operational, Belgorkhimprom will take care of the company
Getting access to the market of design and construction services related to the production of potash fertilizers is often compared with a diamond arch. Indeed, the need for potash fertilizers is increasing year to year: new deposits are discovered all over the world, new mining and processing plants are constructed. To squeeze into this market is the same as to discover a diamond field. This is proved by many years of work of the research and design center Belgorkhimprom reincorporated as a joint stock venture in 1996. Today this company is by right considered one of the biggest and most reputable companies in the segment in the CIS and Europe. The company runs major projects not only in Belarus, but also in Turkmenistan, Russia, Asian and African countries. Belgorkhimprom Director General Sergei SHEMET told the Economy of Belarus Magazine about the company’s most notable contracts and plans for the future.
until it reaches its designed capacity.
We will also be responsible for training of specialists to work at Garlyk Mining and Processing Plant, first of all those who will work in the mine and the processing unit. Today, some 194 students from Turkmenistan study at Belarusian universities (the Belarusian State Technical University and the Belarusian State Technological University). By the time the plant becomes operational, these students will have graduated and come back to Turkmenistan. The plant is to be commissioned in January 2015. Turkmenistan has already transferred part of the advance payment to Belarus. The bulk of the payment is to be transferred in 2013-2014.
The construction of the major facilities of the potash plant has already started. We have decided upon the technology to process ore at the processing unit. We have started building an administrative and housing complex, an ore warehouse, a metal warehouse; we are completing the installation of the foundation of the salt dump and slurry storage. We have built roads and a border dike that protects the construction site and the village of Garlyk from mud flows. We have also installed water and electricity supply service.
If we compare the structure of a mining and processing plant with a human body, then a mine and shafts are its heart. We have already started digging shafts and are planning to finish next year. We are assisted by the Turkish construction company Koca Group and the Trest Shahhtospetsstroy company from Belarus. The mine fan is the lungs of the plant. Its design is ready, now we are completing the equipment production and are thinking how to deliver it to the industrial site.
By the way, when constructing the shafts we are using an innovative method which Belgorkhimprom has developed and patented in preparation for the construction of Garlyk Mining and Processing Plant. For example, in Belarus we use a special method of freezing mine rocks, i.e. we form the so-called ice-wall pillar and then build shafts through it.
However, Turkmenistan is located in the zone of high seismic activity. To ensure the safety of the shafts, the specialists of the company have developed a new method of building shafts. Around the perimeter of the future vertical production, we create the so-called wall of cement-soil mixture by employing the method of a cement grout jetting. This is done with the help of 150 boreholes on each shaft at a depth below watered ground (which reaches the depth of 60 to 90 meters at the Garlyk deposit). And only then a shaft is built in this firm watertight “glass”. New technology will simplify works, make them cheaper and faster, and will also increase the reliability of mine exploitation in the conditions of high seismicity.
In order to enhance the effectiveness of the Turkmen project we would like to involve as many Belarusian producers of equipment, materials, and construction workers as possible. Therefore, we have developed a strategy for the further construction of the plant envisaging a larger involvement of Belarusian organizations and professionals. We are going to ask the Architecture and Construction Ministry of Belarus to help us design and construct several facilities.
The enterprise Construction Department No. 157 from Borisov is already deployed onsite in Turkmenistan. Its professionals have a high reputation there. Currently we are considering buying additional special construction equipment to enhance our capacity onsite. In addition to works directly onsite, we have carried out some structural changes in our branch office in Turkmenistan. We have hired more experienced construction specialists. Today the branch employs more than 100 people.
Belgorkhimprom is the general designer of Talitsky Mining and Processing Plant in Russia. The contract was concluded with Verkhnekamsk Potash Company in 2011. Please tell us more about this project and about cooperation with the Russians in general.
At this point we have prepared a feasibility study of the project, which has been sent to the customer already. Now we are working on project documentation, which must be developed within 11 months.
The new ore mining and processing plant will be located in the Talitsky section of the Verkhnekamsk potash deposit in Perm Krai.
This is not the first largescale project of Belgorkhimprom in Russia. In 2010 the company prepared project documentation for Gremyachinsk Mining and Processing Plant. The enterprise was built as part of the contract with Eurochem, Russia’s largest producer of mineral fertilizers.
In fact, Belarusian engineers partake in Russian projects to develop potash deposits on a regular basis today. For example, they are currently in talks with GMC Global Energy plc owned by prominent Russian businessman
Mikhail Gutseriyev as part of the contract to design a new potash plant in Belarus – Slavkali. The total investments can reach $1.75 billion. Initially the plant’s production capacity will make up about 1.1 million tonnes of potassium chloride per year. Later Slavkali may boost the production if the demand is sufficient.
Certain steps to implement the project have been made already. In line with the investment agreement, GMC Global Energy plc has started developing the Nezhin site of the Starobin potash deposit. Minsk City Hall registered Slavkali as a foreign limited liability company affiliated with GMC Global Energy plc.
Belgorkhimprom has some experience of cooperating with this company. The two enterprises signed a number of contracts to collect data regarding the potential economic effect of the project to set up a potash plant in Belarus. The company prepared a feasibility study and a business plan of the project. All documents related to design and predesign works have been forwarded for consideration to Slavkali. I think, they will be signed in the near future, as Mikhail Gutseriyev decided that our company will organize work on the project during his visit to Belgorkhimprom.
Can Slavkali become a strong rival for Belarusian producers of potash fertilizers? By 2021 Belarus is eager to build another mining and processing plant with the capacity of 1.5 million tonnes of potassium chloride per year at the Petrikov deposit of Belaruskali. By the way, has the project made much headway?
Our company and Belaruskali are currently working together on the action plan to develop the Petrikov potash field. We submitted our proposals to Belneftekhim Concern in the middle of February. Once the project is approved, the works will commence.
Moreover, Belgorkhimprom is involved in another two projects of Belaruskali. In 2012 the production of complex-mixed granulated NPK fertilizers with the capacity of 240,000 tonnes per year will be launched at Belaruskali’s Mine Group No. 3. The facility will manufacture various fertilizers enriched with phosphor, nitrogen, potassium, microadditives. In 2013 there are plans to build a chemical refinery complex for chlorinated mineral raw materials with the capacity of 10,000 tonnes per year. The plant will manufacture and export potassium hydroxide (KOH), hydrochloric acid (HCL), sodium hypochlorite (NAOCL). The investment offer and the architectural design prepared by the company were submitted to the state expert appraisal agency.
As for competition… We should understandthatthepopulationkeeps growing at a time when soil fertility is worsening. We can enhance land productivity only with the help of mineral fertilizers. We believe there will be room for everyone on the market as the demand for the product will continue increasing as well as its price.
Export of potash fertilizers yields high revenue. Saltfield development services can be very lucrative, too. So why, having rich experience, highly qualified specialists and technical potential, not take this chance if there are customers who are willing to pay big money?
This year the geography of your business is expected to widen substantially. Where does Belgorkhimprom plan to advance?
We have great opportunities in Congo, Laos, Morocco, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Venezuela. In Congo we might take part in the development of a potash deposit. We have already applied for the participation in the tender and now are waiting for the reply. Apart from this, in June-july Laos is expected to hold a tender on a potash saltfield development in the Mekong belt owned by Vietnamese Vinachem. We are determined to take part in the tender.
There are plans to develop slate coal deposits in Morocco. We suggest designing the surface complex technology by specialists from St. Petersburg and the rest by Belgorkhimprom. The customer has agreed on these terms and is expected to visit Minsk soon to continue the talks regarding Belgorkhimprom’s participation in the project.
I would call mineral-rich Myanmar quite a promising market. We plan to hold talks with the Mining Industry Minister of that country to identify possible areas of cooperation.
Apart from these promising projects, there are a number of others being implemented jointly with non-cis countries. In late 2011 Belgorkhimprom signed a memorandum on cooperation with the Mining Science Institute of the Vimsat Company ( Vietnam). The document envisages partnership in development of solid minerals. It might be coal, iron, or copper ore. Vietnamese partners are interested in Belarusian technologies.
Apart from that, our specialists are taking part in the development of Venezuelan phosphate deposits. They drill wells, conduct follow-up exploration, and study ore-processing potential. All the works are on schedule. This is the first project Belgorkhimprom is implementing in Venezuela. We established cooperation with Venezuela’s Pequiven in April 2007.
In November 2008 we opened our office in San Cristobal, the capital of Tachira State, in a bid to strengthen bilateral ties.
What helps your company to stay afloat on the market of field development services, especially, in the potassium industry?
For almost half a century since it was established, Belgorkhimprom has gained tremendous, I do not exaggerate it, experience in scientific support and design of industrial facilities. Our company has come up with many interesting practices and technologies. Among them is a new method of shaft construction which I have mentioned before. This method is applied in Turkmenistan today and arouses a keen interest among foreign specialists.
Foreign experts are also interested in our potash ore dressing technologies, for which purpose the company has developed special equipment. Kazakhstan, Russia as well as Uzbekistan are using our technology. China, Germany and Canada also show a vivid interest in Belgorkhimprom’s potash oredressing practices.
And, of course, every advanced technology in the national potassium industry is employed by the institute in its projects both in Belarus and outside the country.
Panoramic view of the future Garlyk Mining and Processing Plant in Turkmenistan
mine No. 4
The construction site of the Garlyk Mining and Processing Plant in Turkmenistan