Russian diamond producer Alrosa plans LNG-powered ops

Russian diamond producer Alrosa is looking to convert its fleet of large mine trucks and road trains to run on LNG and diesel.

The switch would reduce open-pit mining costs, increase operational efficiency and improve overall environmental performance, according to a statement by Alrosa.

In addition, the move would save about 500 million rubles ($6.8 million) per year, the world’s largest producer of rough diamonds said.

The project would have a positive environmental impact, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20–30 percent in CO2 equivalent, Alrosa said.

The firm said the project would see the transfer of more than 200 pieces of heavy machinery to LNG and diesel operation at the company’s Aikhal and Udachny divisions.

Also, it includes the construction of an LNG plant in Udachny and refueling infrastructure that would include both fixed and mobile cryogenic filling stations, the mining firm said.

Alrosa will now work on the project’s pilot phase. The firm plans to test several types of diesel and LNG equipment over a period of about 16 months.

“If all goes well, a decision will be made to build the LNG infrastructure and implement a full-scale switch to LNG and diesel operation for motor vehicles,” the firm said.

“Converting the vehicles would neither affect their technical performance nor require replacing their fuel systems,” Ruslan Sizonov, deputy COO for vehicle management and production support of Alrosa, said.

“But, according to our calculations, it would reduce our consumption of diesel, which today costs approximately twice as much as natural gas, by more than 40%,” he said.

Russian small-scale LNG market on the rise

Alrosa’s move is just one of the small-scale LNG initiatives Russian firms have revealed this year.

Earlier this year, Russian mining giant Norilsk Nickel (Nornickel) said it was planning to build a small-scale LNG plant in the Murmansk region as it looks to convert its heavy mining equipment to dual-fuel technology.

Russian LNG exporter Novatek also recently said it would create a unit to focus on developing the small-scale market in the country.

Furthermore, a unit of Russian gas giant Gazprom has in June launched a small-scale LNG plant near Vladivostok which will provide fuel for trucks transporting liquid helium.

Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft is also looking to sell LNG as fuel for vehicles at its network of retails stations.

The firm has signed a letter of intent with Russian power and energy firm Inter RAO aimed at developing production and sales of LNG and CNG as vehicle fuel.

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