Recent Study: Russia Mining Report Q1 2014

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Mon Jan 20 2014

Despite boasting rich mineral deposits, a mining boom is unlikely to catch up with Russia anytime soon. A growing number of domestic miners will be forced to step the brakes on investment as mineral prices continue to trend lower, while foreign investors struggle to establish a foothold due to restrictive regulations.

We believe Russia's mining industry is set to experience modest growth over the coming years. In line with the dimming outlook in the global mining space, few projects and expansion plans have been announced in Russia over recent quarters. While Russia is home to rich deposits of resources including coal, iron ore, gold and platinum, a mining boom is unlikely to catch up with the country anytime soon. Apart from a gauntlet of bureaucratic hurdles, the escalation of cash costs and softening of commodity prices will see a growing number of miners scaling back their ambitions over the coming quarters.

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However, we believe Russia's coal mining industry holds great promise for rapid growth over the long term. President Vladimir Putin plans to spend an estimated US$123bn to develop the country's coal reserves, alongside major investment into logistics and engineering capacities. Our forecast for thermal coal prices to continue a secular uptrend over the coming years will be a boon for Russian coal miners. In particular, we believe Russian coal miners will benefit from rising coal demand from Asia as a handful of infrastructure projects are underway to facilitate greater coal trade flows.

Crucially, the Russian government will continue to maintain a strong influence on the mining industry. For instance, total palladium supply from Russia is complicated by palladium sales from government stockpiles, which are very large relative to primary production. Foreign firms are also restricted in investing in the industry. Companies seeking to develop a 'strategic resource', defined as a region with more than 1.6mn ounces (moz) of gold and 500 thousand tonnes (kt) of copper, must seek permission from a government's commission. Diamonds, uranium, cobalt, nickel, lithium, the platinum group metals (PGM), tantalum and niobium cannot be mined by foreign firms. In practice, legal obstacles to foreign investment have prevented large overseas firms from developing exploration projects, and smaller reserves are relatively unattractive due to cumbersome and restrictive regulations. We expect Russia's regulatory environment to remain favourable to domestic miners over the coming years.

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