WITH production from Central Asia Metals’ (CAM) Kounrad Copper Project in Kazakhstan continuing, the company has stepped up efforts to identify further copper deposits in the Central Asian country. To this end it has been drilling at the Shuak exploration project, which is about 300km north of the capital, Astana.

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Copper cathode production at Central Asia Metals’ Kounrad project in Kazakhstan.

In a half yearly operations update, CAM said a diamond drilling program of about 4700 metres had commenced at Shuak together with an initial 7000 metre core hydrotransport (CHT) drilling campaign.

Priority areas for both work programs are Mongol V and Mongol North. In total, 22,000 metres of drilling are planned for 2017 and the exploration budget for 2017 is US$1.5 million.

Together with partners Aksu-Esil, CAM has also been undertaking geological mapping at Shuak. The update stated that the company was nearing completion of a TEM-FAST geophysics program designed primarily to ascertain the depth and extent of the saprolite weathering horizon.

In November 2016 the company announced that it had signed a framework agreement to acquire an 80% effective interest in the Shuak property. The licence area is 197sqkm and contains three target areas that warrant immediate and detailed exploration for copper and gold.

During the first half of 2017 CAM produced 7027 tonnes of copper from the Kounrad project, which was 2% higher than production in the same period of 2016. Copper cathode sales in the first half amounted to 6870 tonnes, 8% higher than the 6355 tonnes sold in the first half of 2016. The copper was sold predominantly through the company’s offtake partner, Traxys.

During the June quarter the dump leach, solvent extraction and electro-winning (SX-EW) copper recovery plant produced 3670 tonnes.

CAM said that in April it began irrigating the Western Dumps and during the June quarter approximately 1300 tonnes of copper cathode had been recovered.

Executive chairman Nick Clarke said, “We are pleased that our H1 2017 production is broadly in line with that of 2016. This ensures that we are on course to achieve our full year production guidance of between 13,000 tonnes and 14,000 tonnes of copper cathode.

CAM recently completed an underwritten conditional placing of new and existing ordinary shares which resulted in total funds of approximately US$186.6 million.

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