Polyus Gold International announced at year-end 2011 it had successfully commissioned its Verninskoye open-pit mining and processing facility in the Irkutsk region of southeastern Siberia, Russia.

After ramp-up during 2012, the current operation is expected to produce 260,000 oz/y of gold based on processing of 2.2 million mt/y of ore grading 2.7 g/mt gold. An expansion to 3.6 million mt/y of plant throughput is currently under consideration.

Capital investment to develop the Verninskoye project totaled $340 million. Construction began in 2009. Development activity included procurement of all necessary mining and haulage equipment and construction of roads, warehouses, a shift camp, and a tailings facility. Open-pit development required excavation of 5.3 million m3 of rock and 1.36 million mt of ore over the two-year period. Approximately 226,000 mt of the mined ore was processed at other Polyus processing facilities.

During the first half of 2012 the processing plant will operate using a flowsheet that provides for gravity concentrate generation at the ore grinding circuit, with subsequent final processing to end product at the existing Polyus processing plant at Zapadnoye. During the second half of 2012, upon installation of flotation and hydrometallurgical equipment, gold production will take place at the Verninskoye plant.