Between 2005 and 2016, Acron Group implemented a vertical integration strategy based on own production of the three key inputs for complex fertilisers (nitrogen, phosphorus and potash).
Investments in this period totalled approximately USD 3.5 billion and were allocated to the following projects:
- Oleniy Ruchey mine — in-house phosphate feedstock
- Ammonia-4 —base for further expansion of nitrogen products output
- Talitsky mine — in-house potash production
In 2014, the Oleniy Ruchey mine reached its full design capacity extracting ore from the open pit. In 2016, Ammonia-4 unit was put on stream. Implementation of the Talitsky mine project was affected by changes in the global potash market environment, but the project remains among the Group’s long-term interests. Overall, the Group has achieved the key objectives of its vertical integration strategy.
In 2017, Acron Group presented an updated development strategy for the period through 2025 based on maximum use of existing production potential. The new development programme includes a number of highly efficient projects to upgrade existing process units and build new ones at Acron (Veliky Novgorod) and Dorogobuzh. In its new development strategy, Acron Group also focuses on the needs of its customers, expanding the product portfolio and further developing the distribution segment.
The Group’s new projects have relatively low CAPEX and short payback periods. The projects can be combined for flexibility in the investment programme, and Acron Group is able to control its debt burden. The estimated CAPEX of these projects is approximately USD 600 million, and once complete, they are expected to boost output 25% against 2017 to 9 million tonnes per year. The Group expects that the increased processing of surplus feedstock will positively affect its rate of return.
Projects in Progress
Acron (Veliky Novgorod) and Dorogobuzh
Increase in Output,
|Acron (Veliky Novgorod)|
|Construction of Urea-6 unit||213|
|Capacity increase at Ammonia-4||70|
Construction of two nitric acid units and increase
in capacity of AN and NPK units
AN – 250
NPK – 70
|Increase in Urea-5 capacity||50|
|Construction of urea granulation unit||700|
|Increase in Ammonia-3 capacity||130|
|Increase in ammonia unit capacity||130|
|Construction of a new NPK/DAP/MAP process line||1,000|
In 2008, Acron subsidiary Verkhnekamsk Potash Company (VPC) obtained a licence to explore and develop the Talitsky area of the Verkhnekamsk potassium-magnesium salt deposit in Perm Krai. The project is part of Acron Group’s vertical integration drive to create an independent potassium base for NPK fertilisers.
In 2008-2011, the Company conducted research and geological exploration in the Talitsky area. In 2012, VPC obtained Glavgosexpertiza approval for the first stage of design documentation, shaft construction. In November 2012, VPC obtained construction approval and commenced preparations to construct skip and cage shafts. In 2013, the Company finished drilling freezing holes for subsequent shaft sinking. In 2014, VPC completed assembly of the equipment for the freezing plant, commissioned the administrative building and launched the main step-down substation. In 2015, the Company obtained Glavgosexpertiza approval for the Talitsky mine’s second stage, the underground mine. In 2016, approval was given for the project’s third stage, construction of surface facilities. Additionally, in 2016 the subsoil licence for the Talitsky area was amended to extend the licence term to 2053. In 2018, the Company started shaft sinking.
The Talitsky mine has design capacity of 2.0 mtpa of potassium chloride with further expansion to 2.6 mtpa. Investment in the project to date stands at approximately USD 2.7 billion (including the cost of the licence).
Ammonia Unit (Ammonia-4)
In 2014, Novgorod-based Acron entered the active phase of construction of a new large-capacity ammonia unit at its site. The unit was commissioned in 2016. Its initial design capacity was 700 ktpa, but in 2017, the unit’s capacity reached 780 ktpa. Ammonia-4 is the most powerful operating unit in Russia.
The project is unique because it is the first ammonia unit since the breakup of the Soviet Union to be constructed by Russian experts without outsourcing foreign workforce and based on design documentation drafted by the Russian design institute Novgorodsky GIAP.
Project investments totalled approximately USD 500 million.
Rare Earth Elements
Acron Group has completed a unique project to process apatite-nepheline ore comprehensively and derive the rare earth elements cerium, lanthanum, neodymium, and light and heavy REE group concentrates from apatite concentrate process streams. These operations are performed as a part of the sub-programme Rare and Rare-earth Metal Technologies of the Russian government programme to promote Industry Development and Competitive Growth. Currently, Acron has the only operations in Russia that separate REE concentrates into elements in industrial-scale volumes. Apatite concentrate from the Oleniy Ruchey mine in Murmansk region provides the feedstock base for the process. This marks the first time that complex processing of apatite ores has been achieved in Russia.
The project was launched in 2010. In 2015, the first 20 tonnes of products were shipped to consumers. The REE unit has a capacity for 200,000 tpa of REE oxides.
At this stage, finished products are shipped to the domestic market for use in glass production, as catalysts for oil cracking and in the rubber industry. REE are also used to manufacture alloys, magnets, and electronics, as well as by the defence industry. The goal of this project is to create an independent base in Russia for rare-earth products. The project was overseen by the Science and Engineering Board on Rare Earths, headed by Academy of Sciences member Nikolay Laverov.
Acron has invested a total of approximately USD 50 million in the project, creating 100 new jobs.
Oleniy Ruchey Mine
In 2006, Acron subsidiary North-Western Phosphorous Company (NWPC) obtained a licence to mine the apatite-nepheline ore at the Oleniy Ruchey deposit in Murmansk region.This project is part of Acron Group’s drive to vertically integrate production of the phosphates required for NPK fertilisers.
This large-scale mine project was implemented through development of an open pit and an underground mine. Mine construction began in 2010 after completion of exploration and design work. In late 2012, the Company started producing apatite concentrate. In 2013, Oleniy Ruchey delivered all the Group’s phosphate feedstock and started shipping its products to third parties. With extraction of open-pit ore, the mine capacity was 1.2 mtpa of apatite concentrate. In autumn 2017, NWPC started extracting ore from the underground mine, and it is estimated that further development of the underground mine will gradually increase total apatite concentrate output to 2 mtpa. The deposit’s lifetime is estimated at over 50 years.
Total investment in the project will reach USD 1.1 billion, 90% of which are already spent.
Dome-Shaped Warehouses at AS DBT Terminal Complex
In summer 2012, DBT began construction of three new dome-shaped warehouses at its terminal complex under the DBT-V investment project.
The warehouses with total capacity of up to 27,000 tonnes were commissioned in September 2013, bringing total warehouse capacity to 192,000 tonnes of bulk mineral fertilisers.With the new warehouses in service, DBT expanded the range and variety of transshipped cargoes it handles while ensuring quality and safety with separate storage.
The Company invested a total of USD 13 million in this project.
BCT Port Terminal Complex
Construction of a port terminal facility for transshipment of liquid cargo (UAN and ammonia) at the Estonian port of Sillamäe started in 2006. In 2008, the terminal loaded its first vessel with Acron’s UAN, and the first ammonia was loaded in late 2009.
The terminal has throughput capacity of 1.0 mtpa of UAN and 1.0 mtpa of ammonia. A total of approximately USD 100 million was invested in the project.
Urea Unit (Urea-1000)
The Group launched construction of a new 350-ktpa urea unit (the fifth unit) at its Novgorod site in 2008 and commissioned the unit in 2012. The unit was upgraded in 2017–2018, bringing its capacity to 430 ktpa.
The Group invested a total of approximately USD 100 million in this project.
Novgorod-based Acron started construction of a new UAN (liquid nitrogen fertiliser urea-ammonium nitrate) unit at its site in 2006 and brought the 500-ktpa unit on stream in late 2007. In subsequent years, that capacity was increased to 1.4 mtpa.
Acron invested a total of approximately USD 27 million in the project.