|Location||Khabarovsk Territory, Russia|
|Processing||500 tpd POX + cyanidation|
|Feed||Albazino, Mayskoye, third-party concentrate|
|Production start date||2012|
Located in the Russian Far East, the Amursk POX hub is the very first pressure oxidation plant in Russia, and one of Polymetal’s largest projects that combines operations around a central processing facility. The hub comprises two high-grade refractory gold deposits, Albazino and Mayskoye, and three processing facilities — the Albazino and Mayskoye concentrators, and the Amursk hydrometallurgical plant that uses POX technology for processing refractory ore.
The hub was commissioned in 2012 and achieved its design throughput and recovery levels already in 2013. Since its launch, the hub has gone through two stages of expansion, with the third stage approved by the board of directors on August 19, 2016. This is expected to increase the plant’s processing capacity by approximately 50% and strengthen Polymetal’s commercial position on the concentrate market vis-à-vis third party off-takers. More importantly, this expansion will provide more development options for refractory gold projects in the Company’s portfolio, including Kyzyl.
The project is progressing on schedule, in time for Polymetal to ramp up the de-bottlenecked POX plant to its full expanded capacity in the second half of 2018, in time to take feed from the Kyzyl concentrator.
The POX plant currently runs at its design capacity with additional concentrate sourced from third-party producers. In 2017, all concentrate from Albazino will be processed at the POX, while the volume of Mayskoye concentrate processed will decrease, as the POX facility is expected to process more third-party feed.
The POX hub is based in Amursk, a city with a population of approximately 43,000 people, located on the northern bank of the Amur River in the Khabarovsk region of the Russian Federation. It is located 350 km from Khabarovsk, the largest city and administrative centre in the region, and 54 km from the large industrial city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The production site is accessible by the city road network, with the railway spur located only 4 km away.
The creation of the Amursk POX hub was a key project for the Group’s long-term growth strategy. After careful consideration, Amursk was chosen as the site for our operations for several strategic reasons. Not only did the region offer relatively inexpensive power sources, a qualified workforce and developed transportation infrastructure, but there was an abundance of refractory ore in the far-eastern region with a major lack of processing capacity. So in 2007, the Group secured several land plots intended for the construction of the hub, and after comprehensive engineering and design works, construction began in 2010. Construction finished towards the end of 2011 and the first gold was poured in Q2 of 2012.
Since its commissioning, the POX hub has undergone two stages of expansion, with the third stage currently underway.
Pressure oxidation, also known as autoclave leaching, was selected as the preffered processing option for the Albazino and Mayskoye refractory gold deposits. This process is particularly well suited for treating refractory ores that give low recovery rates when directly leached with cyanide. There is solid engineering support behind the project, including:
- Extensive technological testing by SGS Lakefield and Polymetal Engineering
- Basic and detailed design by SNC Lavalin
- High-pressure OEMs from Japan, US and the Netherlands
- Equipment installation, personnel training, commissioning and ramp up closely supervised and consulted by DevMin
- Experienced operators and engineers recruited from base metal POX plants in the FSU
The POX facility is fully automated, with a processing design capacity of 225 ktpa of concentrate, depending on the sulphur grades. The external infrastructure (power, gas and water) and reserved land plots have the capability to accommodate a two-fold increase in the capacity of the Amursk POX facility.
The Amursk autoclave facility was specifically designed to accommodate the complementary Mayskoye and Albazino concentrates, with careful blending to achieve optimised gold recoveries and minimal operating costs. The facility is fully automated.
The approval and commencement of Stage 3 expansion at the Amursk POX plant was an important milestone in 2016. The increase in POX capacity will enable Polymetal to retain approximately 50% of the Kyzyl concentrate for in-house treatment, as opposed to a third-party offtake, and is expected to improve effective gold recovery from concentrate, as well as bring down processing and transportation costs. The key additions to the equipment will comprise a second oxygen plant, an autoclave discharge thickener, separate filters for thickener underflow and upgrades for heat recovery and water treatment.
The POX de-bottlenecking project is progressing on schedule with all major equipment contracted and required earthworks underway. Polymetal plans to ramp up the de-bottlenecked POX plant to its full-expanded capacity in the second half of 2018, in time to take feed from the Kyzyl concentrator.
As part of the POX Stage 3 project, we also plan to transport activated carbon from Mayskoye for elution and gold smelting. We are targeting increased gold recoveries at 96%.