Russian Railways may introduce investment tariffs to finance the construction of railway infrastructure for the export of products from the Yakut coal deposits. Anna Tsivileva, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kolmar Group JSC, told Kommersant about her position on this issue, as well as plans for the development and diversification of coal exports.
– Russian Railways is discussing the possibility of introducing investment tariffs to finance part of the costs of developing outlets from Yakutia. How do you feel about the prospect of paying them?
– When we initially entered the project, we had a certain agreement, including with Russian Railways, that we invest, we fulfill our obligations for the construction of facilities – modern mines, processing plants, a terminal in the port of Vanino, access roads, treatment facilities, railway stations, power lines, etc., and they fulfill their obligations to build the railway. Moreover, during the existence of our project, we have already paid for the railway tariff at an increased rate, since the railways were divided into Russian Railways and Yakutia Railways (ZhDYa). And only recently, from January 1, 2018, by order of the FAS, uniform end-to-end tariff distances from departure stations to destination stations were established with payment according to a single network price list 10-01.
– How much higher was the current tariff?
– Significantly, by 25%.
– Are additional infrastructure costs somehow taken into account in your financial models?
– No, not taken into account. We have fulfilled our obligations and would like to receive the fulfillment of obligations under the agreements signed by us from our partners.
– Did Russian Railways discuss with you the initiative to introduce an investment tariff?
– We have not yet participated in this work.
– How much do you estimate the lack of infrastructure for the export of coal from your deposits?
– Now we extract about 10 million tons of run-of-mine coal per year, which is enriched at concentration plants, and at present the infrastructure covers our needs for the export of finished products. Our new facilities will soon be commissioned, and by 2024 we will have production of 24 million tons per year. The infrastructure we need is included in the plans for the first and second stages of the development of the Eastern landfill, and we hope that it will be built on time. If further delays are admitted in the implementation of measures for the reconstruction of critical areas for us, then this year there will be a risk of non-export of the entire volume of products.
– Now, with high prices for coking coal, do you plan to increase investments in development or acquisition of new assets?
– Now we have to complete the existing investment projects – one more mine and a factory. We have a large amount of credit funds and must fulfill our obligations to banks for servicing and repaying loans. This is a fairly large financial burden, so we will not be scattered over anything now. We are not planning any investments in new projects in the next two years. In the future, when all payments are over, perhaps we will consider something. The company works strictly within the framework of a given development strategy – it builds and commissions facilities, despite the pandemic. Last year there was a shift in the launch date of the factory by four months, but this is due solely to the fact that the equipment was to be commissioned by manufacturers (for the factory, this is China, for the port – Germany), and we had difficulties with the import of specialists from these countries. But at the same time, we accelerated the training of our personnel who can work on this equipment, and here the pandemic only stimulated us.
– Do you plan to diversify foreign supply markets?
– We have 80% of our exports – China, our strategic partner. But we plan to diversify supplies – not by reducing the share of China, but by increasing our volumes. We are now exploring new markets. In addition to Japan and Korea, these are Malaysia, India and Vietnam. We sent first samples, and then trial ships to India, where metallurgists begin to work on the charge for our coal.
– India previously announced that it would purchase 40 million tons of Russian coking coal. Are you developing cooperation within the framework of this plan?
– The specificity of the supply of coking coal is that it is necessary to select a charge for coal. And after sending the samples, we got positive feedback from Indian metallurgists. Moreover, when using it, the cost of the charge is reduced while maintaining the quality. Now there is a desire on the part of India, and the political situation is favorable for us. In addition, last year we launched our own port with the ability to load large vessels over long distances, and the Indian market became available to us. Currently, we are in close contact with Indian metallurgists on mutually beneficial cooperation, and if all issues are agreed, trial coal deliveries to India are possible.