Kazakhstan copper producer Kazakhmys is proceeding with development of its major copper growth project at Bozshakol in northern Kazakhstan. Bozshakol is a greenfield project located close to existing power, transportation and other infrastructure. The deposit has mineral resources of 1.2 billion mt at an average grade of 0.35% copper, including 832 million mt of measured and indicated resources at an average grade of 0.37% copper. The deposit also contains valuable gold and molybdenum.
Bozshakol will have a production life of more than 40 years. Life-of-mine production will average 75,000 mt/y of copper in concentrate, but production during the first 14 years of operation will average 100,000 mt/y.
Capital cost to develop the Bozshakol project is estimated at about $1.8 billion, which is being funded from an existing $2.7-billion financing facility provided by the China Development Bank and Samruk-Kazyna. Pre-production mining will begin in 2014, with the first ore to be processed at the associated concentrator in 2015.
The Bozshakol project is located 250 km east of Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The deposit is porphyry copper, typical of the calc-alkaline, I-granite series associated with ancient island arcs common in Kazakhstan.
Mining will be from two open-pits. The main Central pit will be developed first and will have an estimated mine life of 33 years from 2015 to 2047. The East pit will have a mine life of about 20 years, 2033 to 2053. Concentrator production will continue for four years past the end of mining.
Mining will be by a standard drill, blast, truck-and-shovel operation, delivering ore at a rate of 25 million mt/y to a primary gyratory crusher, which will feed the concentrator stockpile via an overland conveyor. Additionally, during the first 14 years of operation, the mine will deliver weathered material (ore in clay), at a rate of 5 million mt/y to a separate clay washing plant.
Mill equipment will include a 12.2-m-diameter, 28-MW gearless drive SAG mill and two 8.5-m gearless drive ball mills. The concentrator will produce separate copper and molybdenum concentrates. Tailings will be thickened and initially pumped to a tailings impoundment.