The long term value of the Chaarat Project will be unlocked through a phased development approach. Initially, an 8,000 tonne per day heap leach processing plant will be developed. A bankable feasibility study for this is due for completion in March 2018.
The significant exploration potential in the Tulkubash oxide zone is expected to allow the capacity of the plant to be increased once the initial production rate is achieved. This will ensure that the Tulkubash heap leach plant will be a material gold producer in its own right. The plant is being designed with this expansion in mind, ensuring ample space for additional crushing and conveying equipment, plus long term expansion of the heap leach pad. Due to the lack of agglomeration requirements for the ore, and the expansion plans being considered at the initial design stage, this expansion should be achieved for very little additional capital expenditure.
Expected timetable to production
Subject to the completion of the Tulkubash bankable feasibility and project financing in H1 2018, construction is expected to commence in H2 2018 with first gold production in Q4 2019/Q1 2020.
Along strike exploration in the Tulkubash zone will continue indefinitely including during the 2018 and 2019 summer construction seasons to define additional reserves ahead of commissioning.
The Chaarat team, led by Robert Benbow, has substantial mine development experience. Systems upgrades are underway to prepare the business for the start of construction in parallel with the completion of the feasibility study.
A number of milestones have already been achieved for the project, including:
- The proposed site layout has been agreed and sterilisation drilling completed
- Preliminary designs have been prepared for the crusher, heap leach facilities and processing plant
- Detailed engineering for the critical path heap leach facilities has begun to ensure earthworks can commence in H2 2018
- 70% of the land required for the project footprint has been leased
- Contract pre-tendering has begun, including an evaluation of owner vs. contractor mining
- With the completion of the access road in mid-2018, all initial infrastructure required to start construction will be in place.
Chaarat has retained Endeavour Financial to manage the project financing process. Discussions have been held with a number of potential financiers. Site visits have been undertaken and draft term sheets are under discussion. It is expected that an appropriate debt package will be secured following the completion of the feasibility study.