Dundee – Chelopech and growth

Dundee Precious Metals (DPM) has completed the transaction with Kinross Gold to purchase a 100% interest in Kinross’ George Lake and Goose Lake properties (the ‘Back River Project’), located in Nunavut, Canada for $6 million. 
“Our Back River team has been working hard in the previous months incorporating all historical exploration information into one database and, with this acquisition, they are now in a position to expedite the implementation of the exploration program for this year,” said Jonathan Goodman, President and CEO of DPM. “In addition, our Canadian exploration group is nearing completion of the updated resource estimate that will allow us to evaluate other exploration targets on the properties,” he added. They are located 520 km northeast of Yellowknife and comprise a total of 45 Crown leases and one mineral claim making up six distinct properties covering some 390 km2 of prospective terrain. 
Dundee Precious Metals is a Canadian based, international mining company engaged in the acquisition, exploration, development and mining of precious metals. It currently owns Chelopech, a producing gold/copper mine, and the Krumovgrad gold project, a mining development project, both located in Bulgaria, and is engaged in exploration in Serbia. The Operations Focus of IM’s October issue will be a detailed look at Chelopech, which John Chadwick visited last week.   Previously an underdeveloped and undercapitalized mine, Chelopech is located 65 km from Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city. When DPM acquired the Chelopech mine in 2003, it was a gold/copper mine with recurring financial losses, a mill in reasonable shape but a mining fleet in poor condition and a low morale amongst the staff due to broken promises of badly needed cash for mine upgrades.

In 2004, DPM put together a comprehensive plan to develop the project in two phases.  Phase I of the expansion involved ramping up annual production to 1.5 Mt by 2006 while Phase II included the installation of an autoclave for metal production at site by 2007.  The autoclave technology constitutes the best environmental alternative to treatment of the arsenic in the concentrate produced at Chelopech while at the same time optimized costs by virtually eliminating concentrate transportation expenses, third party treatment charges and penalties. In August 2005, the DPM decided to increase the scope of the autoclave and mine expansion to 2 Mt/y of ore.

Chelopech is now Bulgaria’s flagship mine. The country has a long tradition of mining with little mechanisation, but this revitalized operation is replacing all its underground trackwork, fully embracing trackless mining (with a comprehensive Sandvik fleet of drills, LHDs and trucks), developing a ramp system from surface and introducing the advanced metallurgical techniques.