Mine shaft specialist Shaft Sinkers says there has been a delay in final signing of the Kazchrome Skipovaya vertical shaft development contract. Talks over the US$75 million contract are progressing well, according to company officials, but were not concluded on September 30 as previously advised.

Kazchrome is one of the world’s largest ferrochrome producers and wants the vertical shaft to access a ferrochrome ore body at the Donskoy ore processing plant in the Aktujbinsk region, Kazakhstan. The company makes, supplies and exports ferroalloys to steelmakers across the globe.

The Scope of Work (SoW) includes sinking and lining of a skip shaft eight metres in diameter to a final depth of 1453 metres. Shaft Sinkers was chosen as preferred bidder in a public tender for Kazchrome JSC in what would be the mine shaft contractor’s first contract in Kazakhstan.

The project award, worth around US$75 million, had been subject to negotiations and conclusion of a contract scheduled for September’s end. It is only Shaft Sinkers’ third contract outside South Africa, adding to its deal in India with Hindustan Zinc, owned by Vedanta Resources, and Kibali in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a gold joint venture between Randgold Resources and AngloGold Ashanti.

The company has been seeking diversification from its main market due to the labor unrest that hit the country’s mining industry last year. Its traditional customers are the platinum miners at the heart of last year’s troubles.

“We are pleased to be selected as the preferred bidder on this project,” says Shaft Sinkers’ chief executive Alon Davidov, which “introduces the group to a new client and country as well as increasing our commodity basket.”