Low-cost, highly profitable copper production from our operation in Kazakhstan
We are the sole owner and operator of the solvent extraction–electrowinning (SX-EW) copper recovery plant at the Kounrad mine site, near the city of Balkhash in central Kazakhstan.
This facility recovers copper from waste dumps (Eastern and Western dumps) that originated from the Kounrad open-pit copper mine. Sitting on the surface, these dumps accumulated from open-pit mining operations carried out between 1936 and 2005. Over time, oxides and low-grade sulphides of copper formed a significant tonnage deposited at the mine site.
The SX-EW processing plant produces copper cathode, and the metal is delivered from the Kounrad site by rail and sea to the end customers, predominantly in Turkey.
CAML acquired an interest in the Kounrad project in 2007. The original agreement was a 60/40 joint venture and, in May 2014, the Company completed the acquisition of the remaining 40% of the project.
Having raised $60 million at IPO in September 2010, we completed construction of the Kounrad SX-EW copper plant in 2012, on schedule and US$9m below budget. The plant began producing copper in late April 2012.
Since operations on the Eastern Dumps commenced, we have increased our annual production each year and have now produced over 57,000 tonnes of copper cathode. Our production has consistently been in the lowest quartile of the global copper cash cost curve.
tonnes of recoverable copper
Copper production (tonnes)
In May 2015, we completed our Kounrad Stage 1 Expansion, on schedule and under budget, which involved increasing the PLS handling facilities, boiler capacity and copper plating capacity.
Our Stage 2 Expansion project into the Western Dumps is also now materially complete, with first copper production from this area expected in Q2 2017. Both expansion projects have been funded internally from cash generated from Kounrad.
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With an overall JORC resource of c.600,000 tonnes of contained copper and 250,000 tonnes of recoverable copper, completion of the Stage 2 Expansion to bring the Western Dumps into production should ensure a life of operation in excess of 15 years.
Our JORC (2004) compliant resources, as estimated by Wardell Armstrong in 2013, are shown below: