Almost 72 years after a female Russian geologist travelling in a small boat along the Ayat River first discovered gold at what is now the Varvarinskoye gold-copper project in northern Kazakhstan, European Minerals (EPM-T, EUM-L) has poured its first gold.
“We are on target to reach the initial annual throughput rate during the second quarter of 2008, a remarkable achievement given the difficulties we have overcome and in light of the challenges the whole mining industry faced in 2007,” Bert Kennedy, the company’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.
The flotation circuit will be commissioned in January to build up the daily throughput tonnage of ore in both the gold leach and copper flotation circuits.
In the meantime, the company announced recently that it would soon kick off a 2,500-metre drilling program to test gold and copper geological anomalies within the 220-sq.-km exploration licence that surrounds Varvarinskoye’s 3-sq.-km mining licence.
Two diamond-drilling rigs were mobilized in September to delineate additional mineralization within the current mining limits and beneath the planned pit bottom.
The Varvarinskoye skarn deposit has a total measured and indicated resource of 123 million tonnes grading 0.99 gram gold per tonne and 0.53% copper.
Within that, there is a proven and probable reserve of 60.6 million tonnes at grades of 1.15 grams gold and 0.67% copper.
European Minerals says it will produce 4.2 million tonnes of ore per year from a set of seven open pits, with an average life-of-mine stripping ratio of 4.5.
The mine is forecast to produce an average of 120,000 oz. gold and 5,900 tonnes copper annually over 17 years.
The deposit, in the southeastern Urals, is contained within a Palaeozoic volcano sedimentary sequence with distinct intrusives.