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Long Article and Video in Russian Forbes
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November 29, 2019 - 8:55 pm
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Golden Dali

Irina Telitsyna Forbes Contributor

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

Is it possible to create a private gold mining business from scratch

Two days of field trips taught that gold was underfoot, but it was not visible. In order to extract 2–4 g of pure gold — the average weight of a female engagement ring without a stone — more than a ton of ore needs to be processed. From the excavator bucket to the refinery, the journey with the precious metal is laborious and long. An investor who decides to engage in its extraction also needs patience. But to build a promising business from scratch in this area is possible today.

Sergey Yanchukov invested in gold mining assets in the Trans-Baikal Territory in 2013. In the first half of 2019, his company Mangazeya Mining reported a 30% increase in production to 9090 ounces. In 2020, a modern processing plant will operate at the Nasedkino deposit, designed to process 1 million tons of ore per year.

What is the structure of the gold mining business of GK Mangazeya in Transbaikalia? The trip gives an idea of ​​this, during which we overcame more than 2500 km with the owner of the company, for whom this is an ordinary visit.

Savkino: renting a watch

Start: 2008

Where: 400 km east of Chita, 15 km from the Chinese border, 30 km to the district center - the village of Nerchinsky Zavod

We approach the shift camp at the Savkinsky deposit at dusk. It’s cozy here. Wooden houses with amenities, where several people live in each room. Benches in front of the porch, birches, men with brooms, going to the bathhouse. I can’t get rid of the feeling that a harmony is about to play somewhere. Around darken hills.

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

At the Kochkovsky field, Mangazeya completed a much more modern settlement. But it is in Savkino that the owner of the company, Sergey Yanchukov, prefers to spend the night, going round the mines. In one-story houses of timber, he sleeps well, especially after hundreds of kilometers of the way. “This is really a place of power,” confirms Sergey Klimenko, Managing Director of Mangazeya Zoloto. - Especially in the summer when the hills are all green. Alpengold advertisement.

Yanchukov says that he came to Savkino for the first time when White Tiger owned the field. In 2011, Yanchukov became its shareholder, and in 2013 - the owner of Russian assets. Two years later, in 2015, production at the Savkinskoye deposit increased by a record 204.5% due to additional investments in the fleet of equipment for mining and ore processing capacity.

Until 2019, the Savkinskoye deposit was the main gold mining asset of Mangazeya. Oxidized ores are mined here - gold can be extracted by heap leaching. The deposit has exhausted itself in five years of operation, although at the time of its acquisition they expected more. Every hour, 150 tons of ore moves along an 850-meter conveyor, assembled from modules that are called “grasshoppers” here - elevation changes really resemble insect bent backwards. There is no gold in the moving mass - 2 g per ton, which is considered a good indicator for Savkino. Each side value is calculated for each deposit - the lower limit of the gold content, at which the whole range of work related to its extraction pays off. Whether the raw materials can withstand the required indicators, the laboratory monitors hourly. (This, by the way,

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

The crushed ore mass is stacked. Then for several months, these heaps are irrigated with cyanide. The task of the reagent is to extract gold into the liquid phase, which then enters the hydrometallurgical shop, where it is absorbed by coal. The final products will be ligature gold bars for shipment to third-party refineries. The heap leaching method is one of the most common in gold mining today, notes Sergey Yanchukov.

The production team of Savkino, the very first and longest running asset in the portfolio, is already fully involved in the development of the Kochkovo field. For employees living here on a rotational basis for a month, the transfer to another mine does not present a big problem. Most of them are Transbaikal residents and are used to distances of hundreds of kilometers.

Yuri Meshcheryakov, the head of the heap leaching section, is also from Transbaikalia. At Mangazey, he began his career six years ago as a smelter, became a foreman, then head of the site. He is a representative of the third generation of gold miners in the family. He has no romance about the sphere of activity: “When I have already fused four tons, it’s just work.” It also responds to the question of difficulties: these are tasks that have to be solved every day.

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

“Every year, miners and technologists have to deal with more complex tasks - yes,” says Yevgeny Starkov, Executive Director of Mangazeya Zoloto. - Mineral resources base is depleted. If earlier simple enough gravitational methods were used to extract metal, now chemical reagents cannot be dispensed with. Many companies have already encountered refractory ores: in order to extract a valuable component, it is necessary to use more complex technological schemes - flotation, autoclaves, bioleaching, respectively, more high-performance and expensive equipment is needed. ”

Kochkovskoe: then let's go west

Start: 2019

Where: 524 km southeast of Chita, 29 km from the district center - the village of Gazimursky Zavod, 3 km from the existing Novoshirokinsky mine

Balance reserves of gold: under evaluation

For rational blasting, the entire field is divided into three zones, each of which is divided into several parts. From the observation deck, an excavator gnawing rock in the quarry, and the huge Belaz next to it seem like toys. While we go down in a jeep, the dump truck passes towards fully loaded.

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

The loading from a 5-meter ledge is closely monitored by the local geologist Nadia. Tall, young, beautiful and cheerful. “Without a geologist, shipment does not occur. Here we have oxidized and primary ore. With the excavator driver, we’ll sort everything out completely - we don’t need an empty breed, but the fact that it is red is used, ”explains Nadia. There is enough work for young geologists - in parallel with the production there is an accompanying exploration (they are studying where to carry out blasting further) and ahead of schedule. “And then we will go to the wild west.” Everything will be ours here, ”Nadya waved her hand. Intelligence for 2020 is indeed being led west of the current quarry.

Exploration of the Kochkovsky section of the Mangazeya on Zolinsko-Arkiinskaya Square (863.37 sq. Km) began from scratch. The chief geologist of the company Nikolai Bolshakov told the owner that according to the materials of the Soviet archives there should be ore gold on the site. “They began to dig ditches, drill wells - everything was confirmed. This allows us today to explore what will enable the field to work for the next year, a year later, and so on, ”Sergey Yanchukov does not hide his pride.

“Ore must be constantly drilled, contoured, that is, it must be treated, probably, as a woman. Then then she will give you, as they say, all her reserves in the bowels. We are preparing the sled in advance, that is, in 2019 a large drilling cycle is being carried out, which covers not only 2020, but also partially in 2021. This is necessary so that when planning for 2020, we already clearly understand what ore will be, how to draw up a business plan, business strategy, how many people are needed for this process. Therefore, next year is a year of challenge, a year of hard work, a lot needs to be done, but we are focused on the result, ”says Sergey Klimenko, Managing Director of Mangazeya Zoloto. He is a member of the new management team that Yanchukov managed to form over the past two years. All my life I’ve been engaged in mining as in my native Transbaikalia,

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

The scale of work unfolding on a very recently empty place is impressive. Even the conveyor here is more impressive than on Savkino. The Scandinavian crushing and screening complex Metso divides the ore from the quarry into three fractions: the fine clay goes immediately to pelletizing, the middle goes to the Sandvick complex, after which it connects to the clay and is laid, and the large - to cone crusher. There is no factory here yet, in the process of heap leaching, gold-saturated coal is transported for processing to the hydrometallurgical shop on Savkino.

“Today, the Kochkovo field is a small asset, but after some time it can become huge, with its own mining and smelting plant. And the work of our entire team is to make this tale come true, ”Klimenko confidently states.

Nasedkino: faster pace

Start: 2020

Where: 585 km northeast of Chita, 56 km to the Mogoch district center via a year-round dirt road

Gold balance reserves: 21.2 t

"God created Sochi, and the devil - Skovorodino and Mogochi." The local saying characterizing the quality of roads and life seems likely to lose relevance soon. In August 2019, the Russian government signed a decree on the creation of the Trans-Baikal Territory of Advanced Development (TOR). One of the first resident projects was the development of the Nasedkino deposit by the Daltsvetmet company, which is part of the Mangazeya gold mining division. The company intends to invest 13.6 billion rubles in the development of the project in the Mogochinsky district of Transbaikalia, and employ 600 people. They plan to mine up to 3 tons of gold per year.

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

Now the territory is actively building a mining and processing plant, designed to process 1 million tons of ore per year. They thoroughly approach construction. Denis Kosyan, executive director of Daltsvetmet, says that even part of the crushed stone for concrete is transported hundreds of kilometers - frost resistance is important, so that the foundations for installing huge crushing mills, for example, stand motionless under heavy load. “In March – April we plan to make a cold start of the factory, we’ll try to roll crushers that will grind the ore to a fraction of 40 mm. And already in June – July we will start a hot start, with water, the launch of mills. We will ship the first gold, ”Denis Kosyan paints the prospects.

Everything is large-scale here. The diameter of the thickener bowl for metal enrichment is 50 m; the screen and the hydrocyclone distributing ore into fractions from the Chinese CITIC corporation are not inferior to it. The process of metal absorption by coal will go in the packs that go under the ceiling of the workshop, or sorption columns. Two powerful Italian compressors will have to move coal.

The factory is designed for a capacity of 82,000 tons of ore per month. “Gold is everywhere, it needs to be properly mined and extracted,” Kosyan laughs.

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

The field as an object will be launched in April, but in the dining room for employees it is already crowded. The food is delicious and it seems not only on the occasion of the owner’s arrival (he eats in the canteens along with everyone).

Sergey Yanchukov at the fields is a frequent guest. But it is recognized that a lot has already changed in a month at Nasedkino. “I was in China, but our factory looks more modern. The team works perfectly. In general, production is a constant challenge and constant stress. And the people who deal with it are ready for this. This is the first such large-scale project for our company, ”says Yanchukov.

He admits that there are mistakes, but the team learns from them - this is the only possible way for the company to grow. So, for example, the company did not have a license for one of the sections of the field; I had to buy it at auction. We lost a year on the fact that the contractor delayed the design, had to be changed. But the delay time came in handy - we managed to attract bank financing for the construction of the factory.

Arseny Neskhimov for Forbes

Despite the fact that the cycle from entering the project to selling the first gold is long, Yanchukov does not regret investing in mining. Now the asset portfolio is practically formed - there are deposits of varying degrees of maturity. The team is also assembled. Investors' interest in gold mining assets is also growing, but few Russian owners are ready to let new partners into the capital. Sergei himself became a gold miner in a sense involuntarily. Having once made a portfolio investment in a gold asset, I was faced with dishonesty of the previous management and majority shareholders. At some point, I had to choose between bankruptcy of an asset, followed by writing off investments in zero and taking matters into our own hands. Having bought the debts of the enterprise and invested more money, the situation was brought out in plus.

“Now I am happy that I am doing this,” says Yanchukov. And by the way he communicates with managers while we are shaking on a shift bus to the helipad, it is obvious that this happiness was not caused by EBITDA multipliers at all. Growing a promising business is a truly fascinating male business.

 

Original Russian source: https://www.forbes.ru/brandvoice/mangazeya/388335-zolotye-dali

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