Russian steelmaker NLMK Group has commenced phase two of its programme to reduce the environmental impact of its Stollensky iron ore facility.

According to NLMK, Stoilensky is unique as it combines high efficiency with low production costs and boasts the very highest production quality. The plant produces iron ore concentrate and sinter ore and is estimated to hold commercial reserves are around 5 billion tonnes.

Construction has begun on the second stage of the thickening unit, water recirculation and tailings transportation system. On completion, 'this facility will mark a complete switch to a more efficient way of handling, transporting and storing waste ore after beneficiation', claims NLMK.

"The new technology, unlike the old gravity-fed system, makes it possible to extract liquid from tailings and transport thickened waste ore," says NLMK, adding that it will also save 80% of industrial water, which was previously used in transportation and instead will be recycled and returned to the beneficiation process.

Yuri Larin, general director at Stoilensky, said the project was 'one of the most important elements in Stollensky's development'. He said that the upgrade of the plant's water circulation system would ensure operational stability and increase production efficiency. "These have already led to an increase in capacity of approximately 1 million tonnes per year without significant additional investment," he said.

The new system will reduce the environmental impact of the plant, improve the throughput of the tailings transportation system and save energy. Electricity consumption at the tailings department will drop 9% to 13.9 million kWh, due to the change in the way water is supplied to the beneficiation plant.

The transition to the new technology will be completed in 2018 after phase three construction of the thickening unit. Phase one entered service in 2013 – investment in the construction of the thickening unit and infrastructure totalled RUB 3.1 billion. Phase two is due to be commissioned in 2016, and testing of phase three is set to start in 2018. The final two stages of the project will amount to an investment of approximately RUB 3.3 billion.

The new system is part of the Russian steelmaker's Environmental Programme 2020, which, says NLMK, "is designed to further minimise the company’s impact on the environment and achieve the highest global environmental standards in the steel industry."