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Report: Russia to sell gold mine cheaply to Polyus JV

The Russian government is reportedly trying to sell one of the world's largest untapped gold deposits at a discount to a joint venture between PJSC Polyus and state-run Rostec, implementing sanctions and restrictions to make the asset unattractive to foreign bidders, according to a Jan. 23 report.

Reuters quoted one analyst as saying the starting price in the Jan. 26 auction of the Sukhoi Log deposit was US$145 million, valuing gold there at US$2 per ounce, about 10 times cheaper than deposits of a similar size elsewhere in the world.

The deposit has a reserve of 1,943 tonnes of gold.

One industry source told the news service that Moscow had come under pressure from a two-year lobbying campaign by shareholders in the Polyus-Rostec joint venture.

As a result, the Russian government introduced a requirement that foreign bidders must be at least 25% owned by state-controlled companies.

Reuters reported that Western sanctions over Russia's involvement in the conflict in Ukraine has also made it harder for Russian companies to get access to foreign debt markets, which lowered the number of potential bidders.

The joint venture between Polyus and Rostec and a joint venture between Polyus creditor VTB Bank and businessman Ibragim Palankoyev are the only two bidders, according to the report.