Russian Railways to Lead Udokan Bid

ST. PETERSBURG -- Russian Railways, Urals Mining and Metals and state-run development bank Vneshekonombank will submit a joint bid in an auction for Udokan, the country's largest untapped copper deposit.

Russian Railways said Wednesday that spending on the deposit would total $1.9 billion over 17 years. The rail operator will have a 25.5 percent stake in the venture, to be called Russian Copper. Urals Mining will own 49 percent and Vneshekonombank 25.5 percent.

Russian Railways said developing the field would allow the company to expand cargo transport by more than 1.5 million tons per year at the Baikal-Amur rail line in eastern Russia.

The field, located in the Zabaikalsky region, holds at least 13.4 million tons of copper, according to the state figures.

Norilsk Nickel will not bid in the auction because a "political decision" has been made in support of the group led by Russian Railways, Kommersant reported April 10.