PJSC Polyus, the largest gold producer in Russia, has announced that the first stage of hot commissioning of Natalka has been officially launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin via video-link during a ceremony at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. Following completion of the hot commissioning, the company anticipates that full production will be launched at Natalka before the end of 2018 as earlier guided.
The Natalka deposit is Polyus’ main greenfield project, located in Magadan, the Russian Far East. The processing plant is the largest in Russia, with capacity of 10 Mt/y. Following a ramp-up it is expected to reach annual production of some 420–470,000 oz for the duration of the mine life.
Natalka has ore reserves of 16 Moz and Mineral Resources totalling 34 Moz according to the JORC Code methodology, and is the 15th largest gold asset globally by reserves. Natalka’s major processing equipment, including the primary crusher, the crushed ore conveyer, the primary SAG mill and the main ball mill, is currently in operation having undergone a successful trial run. The construction of auxiliary facilities and supporting infrastructure is ongoing.
Pavel Grachev, Chief Executive Officer of Polyus, commented: “We are delighted to announce the long-anticipated launch of Natalka, Polyus’ main greenfield project and the largest gold mine in the Russian Far East. Natalka will provide up to 470,000 oz of additional production annually and support our targeted increase in overall gold production to approximately 2.8 Moz by 2019. The project will also foster economic growth in the region through the creation of 2,000 jobs at the mine and the processing plant.”
Natalka is located in the Tenkinskiy District of the Magadan Region, approximately 400 km away from the city of Magadan and 130 km from the district center Ust-Omchug. The Natalka deposit was initially discovered in 1942. In 1944, pilot mining using conventional underground stoping methods at the Natalka deposit was launched. In 1945, the Natalka deposit was incorporated under the entity Rudnik Imeni Matrosova (Matrosov Mine). In 1972, a processing plant was built.
In August 2003, the Government auctioned a 38% stake in Matrosov Mine, which controlled the license for Natalka deposit. Polyus won the auction and completed the acquisition of the stake in 2004. Between 2005 and 2008, the company consolidated 100% of Matrosov Mine and, by extension, the Natalka deposit. According to the Company’s current life of mine plan, the expected mine life of Natalka is 31 years of open pit mining based on anticipated production volumes.