CORRECTED-(OFFICIAL)--Construction starts at biggest undeveloped copper deposit in Russia

(Corrects “reserves” to “resources” in the 2nd paragraph of the story from September 4 after the company fixed data on its website)

MOSCOW, Sept 4 (Reuters) - A company owned by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s holding company said on Tuesday it had started construction of a massive mining and metallurgical plant at the Udokan copper deposit in a remote region in eastern Siberia.

With total resources of around 26.7 million tonnes of copper, Udokan is the largest undeveloped copper deposit in Russia and one of the biggest in the world.

Copper at the deposit, first discovered in the 1940s, is hard to extract due to the characteristics of the ore and because it is located in a remote area with poor infrastructure, high seismic activity and permafrost ground conditions.

Baikal Mining Company, owned by Usmanov’s USM holding company, said the plant will have the capacity to process up to 12 million tonnes of ore per year after it launches in 2022, producing cathode copper and sulphide concentrate. The company may increase its annual capacity to process 48 million tonnes of ore per year.

Usmanov, 64, is Russia’s tenth richest businessman, according to the Russian edition of Forbes magazine, which estimates his wealth at $12.5 billion. His portfolio includes a half of Russia’s biggest iron producer, Metalloinvest , as well as telecoms and internet assets. (Reporting by Polina Ivanova and Diana Asonova; writing by Polina Ivanova; editing by Louise Heavens)