KAZ Minerals has received approval for a US$1.2 billion expansion program at Aktogay Copper Project in Kazakhstan. This will double annual sulphide ore processing capacity to 50 million tonnes from 2021 through construction of a second concentrator.

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Loading ore at KAZ Minerals’ Aktogay project in the East Region of Kazakhstan.

This comes on the back of the project achieving commercial production at the first sulphide concentrator in October 2017 and will include an upgrade of the mining fleet to support higher ore throughput.

The expansion represents a low-risk growth project as it duplicates the sulphide processing facilities KAZ has commissioned at the Bozshakol and Aktogay projects.

Output from the new concentrator is expected to begin in the second half of 2021 with the facility ramping up during 2022.

Construction will be managed by KAZ Minerals Projects Division that delivered the original project, with contracts to be tendered in 2018.

The capital budget for the expansion is expected to be in the region of $1.2 billion with approximately $200 million to be invested in 2018. Remaining expenditure will be incurred from 2019 to 2021.

Annual production from sulphide ore at Aktogay will increase by 80,000 tonnes to an average of around 170,000 from 2022 to 2027, supported by higher copper grades. Over the remaining life of the mine, when copper grades will be in line with the average resource grade of 0.34%, the expansion will add 60,000 tonnes annually, increasing production to around 130,000 tonnes.

Due to higher processing volumes the life of the sulphide ore body will reduce from more than 50 years to about 28 years.

Copper cathode production from oxide ore will be unchanged at the annual level of around 20,000 tonnes for the remaining eight year life of the oxide deposit.

KAZ started construction work on the Aktogay project in the first half of 2013 and commissioning of the first sulphide concentrator began in December 2016. Copper concentrate production from sulphide ore commenced in February 2017. The plant has annual ore processing capacity of 25 million tonnes.

KAZ Minerals operates six producing mines. The three mines in East Region are underground while the Bozshakol, Aktogay and Bozymchak mines are open pit. Bozymchak is in the Kyrgyz Republic.

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