The Supervisory Council of Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies recently approved a project to modernize and broaden production of particularly pure quartz concentrate and quartz powder for the nanoelectronic, optical, lighting engineering, and chemical industries. Under the project, a vertically integrated production complex will be established in Russia that will produce a number of base materials for these industries.
Today the market for quartz products of high purity and goods from their processing is among the world’s most promising. Unimin, an American company, is the dominant business in this field. Russia lacks its own production of sufficiently pure quartz goods, obliging domestic consumers to purchase the materials from foreign producers.
Development of the Russian lighting engineering industry and production of a wide variety of solar batteries (in part, as a result of projects that RUSNANO supports) will bring about significant growth in the market for pure quartz concentrates consumed as raw material for preparing quartz crucibles in which electronic and solar single-crystal silicon are grown.
As part of the new project, the project company will master manufacturing of quartz micro- and nanopowder and pure quartz concentrates. Quartz nanopowders, with particle size of less than 100 nanometers, have wide application in microelectronics and in construction and exploitation of oil and gas wells. Quartz micropowder, a cleaned product of pulverized natural quartz with particle size of less than 100 microns, is used as a filling medium during production of integrated circuits. Pure quartz concentrates are used in alternative energy, lighting engineering, semiconductors, and optics and fiber-optics.
The total project budget is estimated at more than four billion rubles; RUSNANO will invest 1.29 million rubles. By 2016 the volume of highly processed quartz products in this project is expected to be 10,200 tons. Revenue from sales of the products will exceed two billion rubles in 2015.
”This project holds some very important competitive advantages: Its own raw materials base in the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug-Yugra and production of a wide range of commodities. The technology for enriching pure quartz that will be used in the project was developed in partnership with leading foreign and domestic laboratories and companies specializing in processing quartz, particularly Dorfner, a Germany company that has had more than 100 years of experience extracting and processing quartz,” RUSNANO Managing Director Georgy Kolpachev noted.
Polar Quartz was founded by the Government of Khanty-Mansiyk Autonomous Okrug-Yugra in 2000 for production of pure quartz concentrate. The project’s technology for enriching pure quartz was development in early stages at Quartz Technology, Inc, in New Jersey (USA), and MRL, part of the State University of North Carolina, and later in Germany by Dorfner ANZAPLAN. In 2003 these research efforts resulted in a process flow sheet from Circumpolar Urals quartz of crystal concentrate that meets the IOTA standard and IOTA-4. There were other participants in developing the technology, in particular, scientific development and production center Priroda, the federal scientific center Prikladnaya Khimiya, Laboratory K2, and the All-Russian Research Institute of Chemical Technology.
Also in 2003 the first stone was laid for the foundation of the enrichment plant in the city of Nyagan and construction began for the pulverizing and photometric enrichment shop in Ust-Puiv. The shop was commissioned in the fall of 2007. Construction of the plant in Nyagan is continuing. Development and commercial extraction of quartz has begun at the Dodo field and the raw materials are being delivered to Ust-Puiv for further processing. The pilot lot of concentrate and ore materials have been shipped to potential consumers (including Podolsk Chimko-Metal Works, LZOS Optics Group, Covalent). The companies have all conducted tests and rendered positive conclusions.
Ural Industry-Ural Polar Corporation, OJSC will serve as the project’s management company for development of mineral resources in the eastern slope of the Ural Mountains. Its activities have been mostly in design engineering and construction of transportation, energy, and ore mining infrastructure for the Polar and Cirumpolar Urals. The company was established in September 2006. The governments of four regions—Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Tyumen Oblast, and Chelyabinsk Oblast—are the principal shareholders. Sverdlovsk Oblast has announced that it will become a shareholder in 2010.