At Udokan Mining and Metallurgical Plant work has begun on commissioning 7 fine filter presses and 1 conventional filter press for processing bulk concentrate, as well as discharge conveyors for the filter presses and screw mixers, in the filtration building of the hydrometallurgical plant.
The filter presses will separate copper slurry under pressure into liquid and solid material (with a high copper content), which is deposited on membranes and then fed for atmospheric leaching. Earlier, installation work in the filtration building, including bringing in power supply lines, was completed. At the same time, equipment in the electrolysis building is being tested. In particular, testing of a robotic crane capable of handling up to 250 cathode sheets per hour has begun. Sequential testing of a cathode stripping machine in automatic mode is also underway. The commissioning of the ball mill in the flocculant preparation building has been completed. A 450 kW mill grinds lime, which is used to make milk of lime to neutralise the leaching cake. The testing of 3 flocculant units, required in the thickening section, has also successfully been completed. As of today, the equipment is ready for individual testing. On 11 September 2023, the start-up of the concentrator plant equipment was carried out in the course of the Eastern Economic Forum. Today, both technological grinding lines at the concentrator plant are in operation, with six mills in all – two semi-self-grinding mills and four ball mills – as well as the entire set of flotation equipment. According to Udokan Copper CEO Alexey Yashchuk, today the company's efforts are mainly focused on preparing for the start-up of the hydrometallurgical plant, which is scheduled for the second quarter of 2024. He also noted that by the end of next year the mining and metallurgical plant will reach its design capacity of 12 million tonnes of copper ore, with 135,000 tonnes of finished products – copper concentrate and copper cathode – to be produced per year. From 2026, annual capacity will rise to 15 million tonnes of ore and annual output to 150,000 tonnes of copper concentrate and copper cathode. Production will be aimed at both the domestic and Chinese markets, but the Chinese market will remain the priority for exports of Udokan Copper's commercial products, said Alexey Yashchuk.