Lydian International has announced positive results of an updated feasibility study of its 100% owned Amulsar gold project in southern Armenia. The study proposes development of a large-scale, low-cost, open-pit, heap-leach operation that would produce an average of 205,000 oz/y of gold over a mine life of 10.4 years.

Initial capital costs to develop the project are estimated at $426 million, and all-in sustaining production costs are estimated at $701/oz.

Exploration drilling at Amulsar.
Exploration drilling at Amulsar.

The Amulsar property is located 115 km southwest of Armenia's capital city of Yerevan and covers an area of approximately 56 km2. The property reaches a maximum elevation of 2,988 m and would have its heap-leach facility in a valley, with a nominal top surface elevation of 1,856 m.

Planned operations contemplate an owner-operated mining fleet delivering run-of-mine ore from three open pits to the primary crusher at a nominal rate of 10 million metric tons per year (mt/y). Higher-grade ore will be processed during the first five years of operation.

Ore will be reduced from 700 mm to 100% passing 12.5 mm through a three-stage crushing facility. The crushed ore will be transported approximately 6.2 km via overland conveyors to a crushed ore stockpile. From there, it will be reclaimed by belt feeders underneath the stockpile and transferred to a load-out bin by a conveyor. Lime will be added to the ore on the conveyor, and trucks will haul the ore approximately 0.5 km to the heap leach pad for stacking.

The leach pad will be constructed in three phases with a total ore heap stacking capacity of 104 million mt over the project life. Stacked ore on the heap-each pad will be treated by applying barren leach solution at a rate of 10 l/hr/m2. The overall leach cycle is 110 days total, consisting of 55 days of primary leaching and 55 days of secondary leaching. More than 70% of the gold is expected to be recovered in the primary leach.

Pregnant leach solution will be collected in a process pond and then pumped into a standard adsorption-desorption-recovery plant for processing. Strip solution from carbon columns will report to an electrowinning circuit, where the precious metals will be deposited onto steel mesh cathodes, dried, and smelted into doré bars.

Doré will be shipped offsite to be refined and sold. Overall gold recovery is expected to be 84.2%.

Lydian submitted its mining rights application for the Amulsar project at the end of July. The application was subsequently accepted for review by Armenia's Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources in August, and the process of public hearings and regulatory reviews is under way.

Concurrently, the company is preparing an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment to meet the requirements of the Equator Principles so it can pursue international financing for project construction.

Lydian's current short-term objectives include determining the project financing structure, completing lender due diligence, and advancing to a bank mandate; value engineering and project optimization; developing a project execution plan for the preconstruction period; and front-end engineering and design to identify long-lead items and prepare for first phase of construction.

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