NGMK Mineral Base strategy
Liubov Egorova, Director for Mineral Resources of Navoi Mining and Metallurgical Company
NGMK was created in 1958 as a uranium mining company. The same year the company’s geologists discovered large gold and phosphate deposits. Until 2021 NGMK operated as an integrated gold, uranium and phosphate producer.
The first uranium processing plant started production in 1964 and the first gold plant began production in 1967.
In 1997 the joint venture Newmont – Zaravshan started heap leaching of Muruntau low-grade gold ore. Between 2010 and 2021 the company commissioned three refractory plants. GMZ-4 plant was built in 2010 at Zarmitan deposit. GMZ-7 processing plant was commissioned in 2020 at Muruntau mine and GMZ-5 was launched at Auminzo-Amantpy cluster in 2021.
In 2021 NGMK National Holding was transformed into a joint stock company. Its uranium and gold assets were separated. NGMK became a gold and silver producer. Uranium assets are managed by the newly created NavoiUranium mining company.
NGMK’s productions are located in Uchkuduk, Zarafshan, Navoi and Samarkand clusters.
The total mineral resources of NGMK exceed 150 million ounces of gold. In January 2020 company’s gold ore reserves were evaluated at around 40 mln tonnes.
NGMK’s mineral resources development strategy is aimed at increasing total resources and confidence in the mineral resource base.
The company is carrying out internal training and retraining programs to increase the quality of the resource and reserves estimation using 3D modelling, among many other technologies.
The company plans to validate its resource base with internal and independent audits and also to extend the existing deposits.
Currently there’s a big difference between reserves and mineral resources. This is due to the fact that not all required studies have been carried out. The company is starting extensive program of the geological studies of all its assets.
To decrease geotechnical and mining safety risks, the company is auditing open pit and underground methods.
The ore reserves development strategy includes the following steps:
- Conversion of the inferred resources into higher categories
- Detailed geotechnical studies and modelling
- Pre-feasibility studies or conversion of existing mining projects into PFS study and minimisation of conversion limitations
- Evaluation of the potential for decreasing the cut-off grade.
The strategy for evaluating the potential of the low-grade non-refractory ore includes aims to:
- Determine resources for the low-grade material (including historical dumps)
- Metallurgical studies on the low-grade material
- Economical assessment
The expected end result is to produce PFS-level studies for the mining and processing of low-grade material from non-refractory ores.
The 5-year exploration program is aimed at prospecting around NGMK’s world-class deposits and processing facilities. The exploration budget is targeted at around 2% of revenue.
At the end of the program, the company is planning to increase ore reserves with the potential increase of production rates and extend the lifespan of its mining assets.