Usmanov, State Firm Would Develop Udokan Together

State corporation Russian Technologies and miner Metalloinvest, half-owned by billionaire Alisher Usmanov, said Friday that they had agreed to jointly develop the Udokan copper field if Metalloinvest wins a tender for it.

The tender for the rights to develop Udokan, estimated to contain at least 14.43 million tons of extractable copper metal, will be held Sept. 17.

Several other bids have been submitted bids, including by Norilsk Nickel and Strikeforce, the mining arm of billionaire Oleg Deripaska's Basic Element holding. Russian Railways is leading a bid as the head of a consortium called Russkaya Med, or Russian Copper, that includes No. 2 Russian copper producer Urals Mining and Metals Company and state debt and pension fund agent Development Bank.

Onexim Group, the investment vehicle of billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, has also submitted a bid.

Russian Technologies, which has steel and titanium assets, said earlier this month that it was negotiating the formation of a team to develop Udokan with potential winners.

Nikolai Volobuyev, deputy head of Russian Technologies, said it was interested in Udokan because the government had effectively handed over to Russian Technologies its 49 percent stake in Mongolian copper miner Erdenet, which is based close to Udokan.