Central Asia Metals’ Kounrad SX-EW Copper Project in Kazakhstan is on track to meet its 2013 production target of 10,000 tonnes after achieving record monthly output of 1114 tonnes in April. The plant produced 4857 tonnes in the first half of the year, which was ahead of the company’s internal budget. Allowing for the planned seasonal variations in output, Kounrad is on track to meet the 2013 target.
Since operations began at the end of April 2012, output has now exceeded 11,400 tonnes and this was achieved over a period that included commissioning, ramp-up and the first winter of operations, which included severe conditions. Kounrad’s operational capability during all weather is now proven and during the first 14 months of continuous production the company has gained valuable experience of operating the plant in a challenging environment.
Central Asia Metals continues metallurgical and engineering tests aimed at expanding copper production at Kounrad. Options being assessed include expansion of production at the current plant as well as construction of a second plant. The company expects to be in a position to decide on the most appropriate expansion option by the end of the year, and a decision to start construction will be subject to completion of a new framework agreement with Kenges Rakishev.
Meanwhile, the exploration licence for Alag Bayan project in southern Mongolia has been cancelled by the Mineral Resource Authority of Mongolia (MRAM). The company acquired the licence in 2008 and a significant amount of exploration work has since been conducted, including 10,171 metres of diamond drilling and geophysical surveys by Goviex Mongolia LLC and by IBEX Mongolia LLC. In 2012, as part of an earn-in deal concluded in 2011, IBEX drilled a further 3260 metres.
These efforts defined a small oxide resource and several mineralized intersections, however, the size and grade of these were insufficient to justify conversion to a mining licence and the company received notification from MRAM authorities that its licence had reached the end of its renewal period and has been cancelled.
Central Asia Metals’ CEO Nick Clarke voiced disappointment over the cancellation. “However, the company will continue to look for new opportunities, whilst focusing on further developing its core asset at Kounrad to deliver growth.”