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ArticleName Development of the Tominsk and Mikheevsk copper ore deposits of the Southern Urals
DOI 10.17580/tsm.2019.07.02
ArticleAuthor Altushkin I. A., Levin V. V., Gordeev A. I., Pikalov V. A.

Russian Copper Company, Ekaterinburg, Russia:

I. A. Altushkin, Chairman of the Board
V. V. Levin, President
A. I. Gordeev, Director of the Mining Operations Office, e-mail:


NTTs-Geotekhnologiya, Chelyabinsk, Russia:
V. A. Pikalov, Head of the Technical Support Department


The main copper reserves of the Urals region are found in pyrite deposits. Widespread use of opencast technology for developing such deposits has almost reached its end. What is left includes smaller reserves, which are farther away from the major processing facilities. In many cases, development of such small deposits (up to 1–2 mln tons of capacity), which are nevertheless rich in copper, yields little if any profit. This situation changed when the Mikheevsk and Tominsk deposits had seen their initial development. They belong to larger deposits of relatively low-grade porphyry ores containing 0.3–0.5% of copper. Initial design studies indicated that, with that type of ore, the minimum throughput of a mining and processing facility should be at least 10 mln tons per annum. The relatively low operation costs that the mining and processing of such ores involve helped identify viable options with regard to the Mikheevsk and Tominsk deposits. The first workings at the Tominsk deposit took place in 2017. The design capacity of the processing facility is 28 mln tons of loose ore per annum. The most relevant benefit of this project is that its tailings could be used to stow the Korkino open pit mine as part of its reclamation. This design will also save the need for building a tailings pond. The Mikheevsk copper deposit is also being developed through open pit mining technology. The mining and processing facility with the throughput of 18 mln tons per annum was commissioned in 2014. Further detailing of the project showed that it would be feasible to increase the capacity to 27 mln tons of ore per annum. The depth of the pit varies from 360 to 550 m. Both mine trucks and conveyors are used to deliver ore to the concentrator plant. Due to the use of crushing equipment of high unit capacity, as well as a three-stage grinding circuit, the recovery of copper increased from 83–85 to 89–90% considering that soft sulphide ores and primary ores are processed, and the quality of copper concentrate improved from 19 to 22%. It was concluded that, considering the size of the reserves and due to the design solutions found, the feasibility of the projects would cover 20 plus years with the annual throughput of 27–28 mln tons of ore, which also accounts for the need to manage the flows of different types of ore. Hence, similar copper deposits with the cut-off grade reaching 0.1–0.2% can be considered feasible.

keywords Tominsk and Mikheevsk deposits, mineral exploration and prospecting, porphyry copper ores, processable ores, copper, gold, silver

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