CHINA Gold International Resources Co plans to increase the annual production rate at its Jiama Copper-Polymetallic Project in Tibet Autonomous Region by more than 900% as part of a phase II expansion. An independent feasibility study carried out for the expansion has provided positive results and the company expects the phase II plant capacity to come online in two stages in 2015 and 2016.

The 30,000 tonnes/day crushing system at the Jiama project in Tibet Autonomous Region.
The 30,000 tonnes/day crushing system at the Jiama project in Tibet Autonomous Region.

Phase I of the project commenced commercial production in September 2010 and included development of the Tongqianshan and Niumatang open pits. These pits annually produce 1.8 million tonnes of run-of-mine ore. The ore from these mines is processed via two processing plants with a combined daily processing capacity of 6000 tonnes of ore.

The company plans to expand daily production capacity to 50,000 tonnes with the addition of a new flotation plant, development of two additional open-pits (Jiaoyan and South) and the expansion of the underground mining operation. Annual production is planned to increase from the current 1.8 million tonnes to 16.5 million tonnes of ROM ore with 9.9 million tonnes from open pit sources and 6.6 million tonnes from underground operations.

Jiama is a large-scale polymetallic deposit about 68km east-northeast of Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region, along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway within the Gangdise Copper Metallogeny Belt in Central Tibet.

A new mineral resource estimate has also been prepared with measured and indicated resources growing 41% to 1.486 billion tonnes @ 0.41% copper. Proven and probable reserves increased to 441 million tonnes at a grade of 0.61% copper from 363 million tonnes. Contained copper in the resources increased to 6.138 million tonnes from 4.64 million tonnes.

The ramp-up to annual processing capacity of 16.5 million tonnes is expected to happen in 2017 and is expected to continue until 2039 when reserves from the open pit mines are exhausted. After 2039, operations will continue from the underground mine until 2049 at an average annual rate of 5.4 million tonnes.

At completion of operations the total recovered metal is estimated to be 5.3 billion pounds of copper, 192.4 million pounds of molybdenum, 101.3 million ounces of silver, 1.5 million ounces of gold, 828.2 million pounds of lead, and 314 million pounds of zinc. Average annual production is estimated to be 67,000 tonnes of copper, 2400 tonnes of molybdenum, 2.8 million ounces of silver, 42,000 ounces of gold, 10,400 tonnes of lead and 4000 tonnes of zinc.

Estimated capital expenditure is US$716.2 million or $1.59 per tonne of ore and estimated total operating costs are $23.48 per tonne of ore.

China Gold International Resources CEO Dr Xin Song says, “We are very pleased with the results of this study and the long-term outlook for this strategic asset.”

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