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Belkomur rail project brings new opportunities to Russia’s Arctic regions

Belkomur will increase the effectiveness of more than 100 companies, and another 40 enterprises will get opportunities for development

MOSCOW, May 25. /TASS/. The first trains may run on the Belkomur railway (White Sea-Komi-Urals) already in 2023.

The Belkomur project is a new railway route, which will connect industrially developed regions in Siberia and the Urals with ports in Russia’s North and North-West. The project will add to effective development of the Arctic projects and will form the international railway route across Russia between Russia’s European North and China, thus cutting by 800km the transportation distance for deliveries from Siberia and the Urals.

The prospects for the Belkomur project implementation have been discussed at an extended meeting of the Federation Council’s committee for economic policy.

The project will be launched in time if a concession agreement on the railway construction is signed by the beginning of 2018, Viktor Novozhilov, the chairman of the Arkhangelsk regional legislature, told TASS after the meeting.

Chinese company Poly International Holding Co. earlier confirmed plans to invest up to $5.5 bln into the project. The concession agreement is expected to be drafted and submitted to the Russian government already in 2017.

"The project’s implementation requires reconstructing and building of hundreds of kilometers of railroads. The project will boost the development of key economic clusters, including chemical, timber, transport, shipbuilding, construction, fuel and energy, mining and seafood processing industries," Novozhilov said. "More than 45,000 new jobs will be created. If the concession agreement with the investor is signed by the start of the next year, the first trains will run on the railway already in 2023."

He added that Russian senators had supported the railway construction.

Alexei Alsufiev, the first deputy governor of the Arkhangelsk region, told TASS that the 2016 strategic audit of the Belkomur project had confirmed its macroeconomic efficiency.

"This efficiency grows if we regard the Belkomur project in dynamic connection will all major infrastructure projects in the region that are being or will be implemented in the near future. I am talking about the Murmansk transport hub, the Northern latitudinal railway and the Arkhangelsk seaport," Alsufiev said.

Belkomur will increase the effectiveness of more than 100 companies, and another 40 enterprises will get opportunities for development. The project is also expected to suspend the outflow of workforce from Russia’s northern territories.

As for the Arkhangelsk region, in particular, it will be able to produce additional 4 mln cubic meters of timber annually, to increase the mining of bauxite ore and diamonds and will contribute into the development of lead and zinc deposit on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago.

The Perm Territory has a minimum share in this project (some 9.5%) but Belkomur will give this region additional possibilities to develop timber industry and increase production of limestone and other building materials. The new railway will resolve the problem of transportation from the Solikamsk basin of up to 10 mln tons of potassium fertilizers annually.

Belkomur will allow the Komi Republic to increase timber production and will help the development of major deposits of bauxite and titanium ores.

"The region and our east-oriented projects can be potentially linked to Belkomur," said Nikolai Gerasimov, deputy head of the Komi government. "I am talking about the development of oil production and construction of gas industry and mining enterprises."

He said the republic was always seeking the implementation of this project.

"The projects not only links regions, north and south, Europe and Asia, but also creates prospects for remote areas. The position of the Komi Republic is simple and standard - we want this project to be implemented and to start working for the development of our region," the official said.

At the regional level, the Belkomur project will boost the industrial and social-economic development in Komi, Perm, Arkhangelsk, Murmansk and other adjusting areas. As the route is implemented, another 39 investment projects will develop further the North-Western part of Russia, attracting more than 720 billion rubles (almost $13 billion) in private investments, and offering 28,000 new jobs. The new railway’s annual capacity will be 35 million tonnes.

Coal, mineral fertilizers, oil, timber, ores, construction materials, containers will be taken to the backbone ports of the Northern Sea Routes: to the ports of Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Belomorsk, and later on also to Sabetta. The extra-budgetary funding of the railway construction will exceed 260 billion rubles ($4.5 billion). As the exploitation term (26 years) expires, the Belkomur railway will be transferred for further use to the Russian Federation.