The head of gold mining company Polymetal, Vitaly Nesis, has presented a project to investors for the construction of a hydrometallurgical plant in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan. The plant, known as the Irtysh MMC, will be able to receive high-carbon and low-carbon gold concentrate from the Kazakh Bakyrchik deposit of the Kyzyl project, as well as third-party raw materials. The capacity of the plant will be 250-300 thousand tons per year, with investments for its creation estimated at $730 million.
Currently, low-carbon gold concentrate mined at the Kyzyl project is processed at the Amur Hydrometallurgical Plant (AGMK) in Russia, while the high-carbon gold concentrate is processed in China. Nesis stated that the company is evaluating options for splitting the businesses in Russia and Kazakhstan, making the construction of a new autoclave leach facility in Kazakhstan the “only reasonable option.” However, a final decision on the project has not yet been made.
The site chosen for the plant is located near the city of Pavlodar in Northern Kazakhstan, with the main criteria for the choice being infrastructure security, the availability of cheap electricity, and the optimal level of aridity. The technological scheme will be identical to AGMK-2 with minimal changes, and the capacity will also be the same. The company plans to complete the basic engineering work by the end of the year, with a final decision on the Irtysh MMC to be made in the second quarter of 2024 and the plant itself to be launched in the second half of 2028.
In addition to the construction of the Irtysh MMC, Polymetal is also considering a change in its registration from British offshore Jersey to the international financial centre Astana. The decision requires support from at least 75% of the company’s shareholders. If the company decides to move to the AIFC, the primary listing can be transferred to the AIX exchange, where its ordinary shares will be traded with a new ISIN code.
Despite the potential for growth and expansion with the construction of the Irtysh MMC and a potential move to the AIFC, shares of Polymetal have been falling on the London Stock Exchange for the past two days. As of January 27, papers were reduced by about 6% to 2.07 pounds.
At the end of 2022, Polymetal produced 1.712 million ounces of gold equivalent, a 2% increase from 2021. The company operates at seven Russian fields and two Kazakhstani ones, with Kazakhstan’s Kyzyl and Varvarinskoye deposits, combined producing 541 thousand ounces of gold equivalent. Polymetal’s shares began trading on AIX in the spring of 2019, becoming the first foreign issuer on the AIFC stock exchange.