IFG and Goscomgeology to revive Yakhton tungsten project in Uzbekistan

An advisory and investment company has teamed up with Uzbekistan’s geology and mineral resources committee to carry out a feasibility study on developing the Yakhton tungsten deposit in the Samarkand region of the country.

IFG Capital Partners, which is focused on Uzbekistan and wider Central Asia, considers Yakhton to be the first step in “building a tungsten cluster in Uzbekistan through consolidating a number of individual low-margin deposits into a highly effective industry leader built around a state-of-the-art processing facility”. The project was previously explored as part of an Uzbek-South Korean joint venture, according to local Uzbekistan press reports.

IFG and the State Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Geology and Mineral Resources (Goscomgeology) will start the first phase of the study immediately. This includes verification drilling to confirm existing reserves and metallurgical testwork to determine the optimal ore processing scenario followed by the design of a processing facility.

Should the study prove positive, IFG will also organise the development of the deposit.

Yakhton is a tungsten deposit located near the town of Urgut, 55 km south of Samarkand, which contains some 20,100 tonnes of tungsten trioxide.

Bobir Islamov, Chairman of Goscomgeology, said: “Uzbekistan is a country rich in mineral resources and the tungsten industry has for long been considered an unexploited jewel. We are confident that this [project] has the potential to become a world-class tungsten operation.”

He added that the agreement marks another “major step in the accelerating growth of outside investment and expertise into Uzbekistan”.

Olga Ponkratova, Managing Partner of IFG and its IFG Metals and Mining subsidiary, said “We know the vast potential that Uzbekistan offers in the metals and mining space and we are pleased that our expertise has been recognised by the government as their chosen partner to develop such a great opportunity.

“We believe that this agreement will form the framework for future cooperation with Goscomgeology and will be a major stepping stone of our programme to make Uzbekistan not only a world-class tungsten producer but also an attractive investment destination.”

Uzebekistan already produces tungsten through a state-owned miner. In 2014, the company produced 83 t of the metal, according to the USGS.