top of page

Innovation and technical modernisation

Research and technological development

The Company’s expenditures on research and technological development, in the form of R&D and design and exploration work, amounted to RUB 1,755 million or 68.5% more than in 2011. This increase was primarily due to the growth of design and survey work by 88.5%, and R&D by 72.2%.

The Company’s expenditures on research and technological development, RUB million

2011 2012
Expenditure on design and exploration work 774.3 1,295.2
Expenditure on research studies 267.1 459.8
TOTAL: 1,041.4 1,755.0

Innovation programme

The past year has given new impetus to the growth of innovation within the Company. OJSC ALROSA uses a systematic approach in the search for innovation, both within the Company and externally: in the innovations coming out of the small-business community, in university and academic science, in cooperation with foreign partners. 2012 saw a significant increase in the number of implementations of innovative technologies and equipment, as compared with the previous year. Collectively, the Company introduced 47 scientific and technical developments, and secured 17 grants of titles of protection, including 15 patents for utility models and inventions.

Strategic vectors for innovative growth

  • Improving the efficiency of diamond mining at existing facilities.
  • Expanding the use of diamonds in other industries via, among other things, participation in technology platforms.
  • Implementing comprehensive information systems.
  • Improving the efficiency of diamond-exploration activities, the introduction of new technology and high-performance drilling equipment for geological prospecting
  • Developing new diamond-mining technologies: the creation and implementation of new cost-effective ore-concentration technologies forlow-grade ores at technological fields, the creation of technologies and modular units for development of deposits far from the production infrastructure.

Financials for the Innovative growth and technical modernisation programme

The actual amount of financing for OJSC ALROSA’s Innovative growth and technical modernisation programme for 2012 amounted to RUB 1,99272 billion, as compared to the planned RUB 1,9927 billion. As a result of implementing the innovative program, an economic benefit in the amount of RUB 2,37775 billion ensued. The innovation efficiency index reached 1.19 RUB / RUB. The economic effect of R&D totalled RUB 743 million, with the total funding of research and development at RUB 542 million. The return on investment per rouble invested rose to 1.37 roubles.

Investment programmes of the Company, RUB mln

Category 2011 2012
Expenditure on technological innovation, research and development 1,034.00 1,766.87
Funding of research and development 267.10 542.34
Capital investments and the purchase of materials, software and other services for the implementation of technological innovations 766.90 1,224.53
Specialty university training expenditures 15.30 24.54
Marketing and organisational innovation expenditures 57.00 201.31
TOTAL: 1,106.30 1,992.72

Sources of funding for the Innovative growth and technical modernisation programme:

  • OJSC ALROSA’s internal funds in the amount of RUB 1,8676 billion;
  • The funds of subsidiaries involved in the Programme, in the amount of RUB 60,07 million;
  • Government subsidies of RUB 65,0 million, allocated for the implementation — jointly with the North-Eastern Federal University — of the Establishment of a comprehensive, environmentally safe and innovative method of mining and processing diamond-bearing ore in a northern climate project.

The innovation programme implemented

As a result of implementing the innovation programme, the planned targets for improving key performance indicators for 2012 have been achieved, and are presented as part of ALROSA’s Long-term development plan for the period through 2021.

The development and implementation of the following breakthrough technologies may be seen as a significant achievement of the programme’s initial phase:

  • the introduction of a method of development-mining mineral deposits using steeply inclined ramps with increased slopes — 240 permille. This technology is unique, has no domestic equivalents, and is protected by several patents and inventions. The result was a 5.0% increase in the completeness of mineral extraction at the Udachny pipe, using the open-pit method. The positive effect of introducing this technology at the Udachny mine is multiplied via its practical use at other ALROSA mining and processing plants;
  • the introduction of unmanned remote control of the mining-transport infrastructure;
  • the development and implementation of a 3-dimensional seismic ore survey system (3D), used for prospecting diamond deposits with the Sercel 428 XL telemetric seismic survey system;
  • the introduction of a process of stage breaking kimberlites before concentration at the Number 3 Concentration Plant MMPD in order to ensure the most complete preservation of the natural quality of the crystals and a higher price of salable material;
  • completion of the first phase of research on a prototype device that detects and identifies diamonds in kimberlite in the process of registering and analysing the spectrum of characteristic gamma radiation of the nuclei of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium and other elements present in kimberlite — jointly with Neutron Technologies LLC, an engineering company that is part of RUSNANO;
  • completion of the first phase of R&D and evaluation of the possibility of identifying a diamond in a piece of ore using dual-energy X-ray absorption — jointly with Fraunhofer Institute (Germany);
  • development of software enabling computer vision, aimed at recognising diamonds in an ore stream, so as to increase the selectivity of radiographic separation (RGS-2); modernisation (a new version has been constructed) of an X-ray tube for use in a radiographic separator; the completion of the first stage of building a commercial prototype of an arsenide-gallium X-ray detector.

A comparison of key innovation indicators for 2011 and 2012 is presented in the table below:

Indicator 2011 2012
Financing and effectiveness of research indicator
Volume of research financing, % of revenues 0.23 0.38
Number of research projects developed and put into production 27 47
Technological leadership indicators
Number of patents and other documents protecting intellectual propery per year. (received) 14 17
Innovation efficiency indicator
Innovation efficiency indicator, RUB/RUB 0.87 1.19
Implementation efficiency indicator for research, RUB/RUB 1.11 1.37
Workforce productivity indicator
Revenue per employee engaged in core activities, RUB million 9.93 10.52

Main R&D events and collaborative projects for 2012

2012 saw the successful completion of a three-year joint project between OJSC ALROSA and North-Eastern Federal University, titled Establishment of a comprehensive, environmentally safe and innovative method of mining and processing diamond-bearing ore in a northern climate. The project was awarded a first-place diploma at the St. Petersburg Technical Fair as the best innovation project and the best research development of the year.

Also during the reporting period, and within the framework of the Innovative growth and technical modernisation programme, the first open competition for innovative projects was held. Contest awards and cash prizes were given to six individuals and groups.

In order to effectively implement innovative projects, in 2012 a decision was taken at OJSC ALROSA to establish the Burevestnik (Thunderbird) innovation centre, resident in the Novoorlovskaya special economic zone in St. Petersburg. The center will focus on creating new models of equipment for mineral processing and studies of the structure and composition of matter. Resident status will afford a number of tax benefits and the use of duty-free-zone customs procedures.

In order to create a modern centralised regulatory framework of labour costs, along with a procedure to update and improve it continuously, a labour-norm centre was created as part of the Yakutniproalmaz institute.

In 2012, Company representatives took part in many innovation-oriented industry projects, both in Russia and internationally. Among these events are the Archimedes-2012 Exhibition (Moscow), the MinExpo Exhibition (Las Vegas, USA), the Innovation and Development international forum (Moscow), and the Interra-2012 Forum (Novosibirsk). Together with the Research Institute of Comprehensive Exploitation of Mineral Resources at the Russian Academy of Sciences, in Moscow, the Company held a research and training conference titled Difficulties of mining the Mir pipe diamond deposit, located under the strata of the Metegero-Ichersky aquifer system, which drew the attention of industry representatives from Russia and abroad, including the leading Russian research institutes and regulatory bodies. In addition, in the Omsk and Novosibirsk regions OJSC ALROSA has continued to form long-term partnerships with small and medium-sized businesses with a view to joint development and implementation of innovative technologies. An important area of cooperation is the Company’s participation in the work of the Russian-Austrian working group; specifically, cooperation is afoot with Austrian entities possessing technology and know-how in mining. In addition, the Company has been cooperating innovation-wise with companies and industry organisations from Australia, Germany, the UK, and Canada.