Sustained greenfield and brownfield exploration programmes are key to our long-term growth, alongside the cost-effective drive to increase our resource base through the development of next-generation assets.
To optimise our portfolio of exploration projects, we focus on areas adjacent to our processing or potential hubs (brownfield), and on assets with the potential to become sizeable, standalone operations (greenfield). The advancement of all exploration projects is subject to rigorous review through pre-determined project stages, which are linked to our estimate of the resource potential and its economic prospects.
In 2016 drilling volumes increased by 40% year-on-year to 324 km. mainly as a result of additional drilling volumes at the new deposits, most notably Komar. Nezhda and Lichkvaz. We obtained nine new licences during 2016. bringing the total number to 86. of which 47 currently involve active exploration activities. Our key targets for 2016 were:
- exploration and initial reserve and resource estimate at key greenfield gold assets: Lichkvaz (Armenia) and Dolinnoye (Kazakhstan):
- exploration campaign at Nezhda to prepare the deposit for a Stage 2 entry decision;
- continued exploration for platinum group metals (PGM) deposits in the Karelia and Ekaterinburg regions in order to establish new hard-rock PGM resources sufficient for a standalone mining operation.
In 2017, we plan to advance our new projects and expand our exploration activities into new prospective areas, finalise the initial open-pittable reserve and resource estimate for Nezhda and the JORC-compliant reserve estimate for a combined life-of-mine plan for Lichkvaz and Kapan.