Perth-based gold exploration company Manas Resources has hired a Chinese consultant to design its Shambesai gold project in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Yantai Design Institute will complete the detailed process plant design and equipment selection for the 180,000 ounce project, with the basic engineering design undertaken in Australia.

The definitive feasibility study (DFS) for the stage one gold leaching facility is being independently reviewed by UK-based Snowden group consultants. Once the final report has been released in February, the DFS will provide the basis for the project’s design and layout.

Manas says negotiations for the design of the mine and infrastructure are under way as well as supply of the camp, crushing and gold room sections of the development. The company is also continuing its drilling and exploration program to increase the mine life at Shambesai. A possible additional 700,000 tonnes @ 1.8 grams/tonne gold of inferred oxide material is contained within the pit shell which could increase the total mineral inventory to 220,000 ounces.

Shambesai is in the Tien Shan gold belt in the Kyrgyz Republic, and is expected to be one of the lowest-cost gold operations in the world. Manas is the largest and most active gold explorer in the Kyrgyz Republic with nine projects under exploration. The company’s second largest gold project, Obdilla, is 7km from Shambesai and has a resource estimate of 485,000 ounces.

Meantime, Manas says governmental reform in the Kyrgyz Republic will see a reduction in the number of licences and permits it has to obtain before it can begin mining at Shambesai.

The country’s Natural Resources Ministry has been restructured as the State Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources. This agency will now be in charge of licensing and compliance, with the Ministry for Economy and Investment the authority on policy and reform of the mining industry. The restructure has also seen a Licensing Commission established to supervise and streamline the permit process for mining companies.

Manas says a working committee has also been established to recommend further reforms to stimulate investment in the mining sector.