Anglo Asian Mining says the Caterpillar mining fleet for its new Gilar mine has now been delivered to the Gedabek mine site, marking the first time Caterpillar underground equipment will be deployed in Azerbaijan.
The equipment will be substantially vendor-financed, and this is the first time Caterpillar will provide this to a customer in Azerbaijan or the wider Caucasus region.
The underground mining fleet comprises three 15-t-payload R1700 underground loaders and two 980UMA wheel loaders with 5.6 cu.m buckets.
Borusan, the authorised regional dealer of Caterpillar equipment, will maintain a stock of spare parts and consumables within Azerbaijan and major parts will be held at Borusan regional centres in Türkiye and Kazakhstan, Anglo Asian says. This will enable efficient aftersales servicing of the machines over their lifetime, which was a major factor in the machine selection process.
The company says: “The underground mining fleet are ‘state-of-the-art’, next-generation machines constructed with safety at their core. They are more powerful and contain many new features compared to their predecessors. The operator environment has been improved and is more comfortable. Many new safety features have been added, including better access points, multiple fire suppression systems and improved visibility and lighting.”
The underground equipment will be used in the company’s new Gilar mine, which is currently under construction and development. On December 11, a maiden JORC (2012) mineral resource estimate was published for the Gilar deposit. This confirmed 6.1 Mt of mineralisation with an average copper grade of 0.88% and 1.30 g/t Au. The in-situ mineral resource is 54,000 t of copper, 255,000 oz of gold and 46,000 t of zinc, according to the company.
The Gilar mine is scheduled to begin production around the middle of 2024 and will be an important source of production, bridging the gap between declining grades at Gedabek’s existing mines and production starting from its much bigger Xarxar and Garadag contract areas.
The total cost of the equipment is $4.6 million. The $3.7 million balance due for the purchase of the equipment will be paid by the end of December 2023 from the group’s existing liquidity resources. It is anticipated that $3.7 million will be refinanced by a vendor financing loan from Caterpillar. Negotiations are continuing with Caterpillar Finance to finalise execution of the loan which is expected to close in the March quarter of 2024.
A ceremony was held on the afternoon of December 11, 2023, to mark the arrival of the equipment at Gedabek. This was attended by the group’s leadership team, Azeri and Turkish representatives from Caterpillar and Borusan, along with representatives from both the central and regional Governments of Azerbaijan. A demonstration was also given of operating one of the machines by remote control.