Gold miner and producer Hambledon Mining has entered an agreement with Kazakh exploration and geological researcher Hydrogeology LLP to acquire historic geological information about the Karasuyskoye ore fields.

Hydrogeology will acquire the information for US$27.5 million to be funded through the issue of an unsecured convertible loan by African Resources, an investment group and Hambledon’s current 50.9% shareholder.

Hambledon says exploration drilling and testing by Hydrogeology indicates estimated resources of 9 million gold ounces and more than 16 million silver ounces over an area of 198sqkm adjacent to its current concessions and production facilities, offering potential for both open pit and underground mining.

“The acquisition will allow the company to significantly expand operations and move into its next stage of development,” says Hambledon CEO Aidar Assaubayev.

The data will also form the basis of the company’s application to Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Industry and New Technologies for a production licence covering the enlarged mining area. If approved, Hambledon intends to progress further exploration on assets in order to prepare a JORC-compliant competent person’s report (CPR) and move to production.

Proximity of the Karasuyskoye Ore Fields to Hambledon’s existing assets also offers the potential to exploit economies of scale and utilize, at least in initial stages of production, existing plant and mining equipment.

Following completion of the CPR, the company expects to announce its strategy for bringing the Karasuyskoye Ore Fields into production using cash generated by its existing operations. Initially, this is expected to involve the utilization of the company’s existing mining fleet and processing facilities, while the company completes its medium-term investment program to expand both fleet and plant.

Hambledon is operating the Sekisovskoye gold mine close to Ust Kamenogorsk in East Kazakhstan. It has been mining from an open pit and operating an 850,000 tonnes per annum treatment plant since 2008. Underground mining at Sekisovskoye began in late 2011 but was temporarily discontinued in October 2012. It was re-started in mid-June 2013 under new management appointed by African Resources.

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