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Armenia in talks with Russian mining company over construction of nuclear power plant

The Matsamor Nuclear Power Plant is located northwest of Armenian capital Yerevan (Adam Jones/CC BY-SA 2.0)
Armenia is in talks with a Russian mining company over the construction of a nuclear power station in the country, according to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Pashinyan told parliament last week that the offer had been made by an owner of GeoProMining, Armenian state news agency Armenpress reported.

GeoProMining is a private holding company that specialises in the extraction of gold, copper and rare metals with operations in Armenia, Siberia, Georgia and Vietnam, among other countries.   

The prime minister said the talks had covered the construction of a copper smelting works and a nuclear power plant, adding that “the offer corresponds to the economic and state interests of Armenia”.

If the project goes ahead, Pashinyan said it would be a public–private venture, as nuclear power plants could not be left entirely to a private company. The government has a target date of 2025 for the beginning of work on the smelter, and the prime minister said that, if possible, this should coincide with the construction of the nuclear plant.

GeoProMining is investing $2bn in Armenia’s mining sector, and the price of the copper smelting works has been put atanother $1.5bn.

Panshinyan did not say which of GeoProMining’s owners and directors he had talked with, but on 2 October he hosted board member Roman Trotsenko, after the GeoProMining donated 25% of its 60% holding in Armenia’s Zangezur Copper-Molybdenum Combine to the government.

The company’s best known executive is Siman Povarenkin, who has gained publicity in Russia for his support of art, theatre and gastronomy. 

Armenia is home to Metsamor (pictured), the south Caucasus’ only nuclear plant. This has two ageing VVER-440 reactors, which together generate a little over 800MW. Although this design has a poor reputation for safety, the plant is essential to Armenia’s power system.  

In March 2014, the Armenian government decided to extend the plant’s service life to 2026, with the help of a loan from Russia.

Nuclear Engineering International notes that a second nuclear plant has long been part of Armenia’s planning for its future electricity supply. However, the project has not tempted private investors.

Image: The Matsamor Nuclear Power Plant is located northwest of Armenian capital Yerevan (Adam Jones/CC BY-SA 2.0)

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