The lowest cost operation of Polymetal

Quick facts

Location Khabarovsk Territory, Russia
Ownership 100%
Mining Open pit
Processing 1000 Ktpa heap leaching circuit
Reserves (JORC) 0.4 Moz GE, 2.6 g/t average grade
Resources (JORC) 0.4 Moz GE, 3.4 g/t average grade
Production start date 2016
Life of mine 2024
Key 2018 numbers
US$301 GE/oz Total cash costs, 2017


In 2017 Svetloye became the lowest cost operation, with TCC of US$ 313/GE oz (25% lower than in 2016) as it ramped up to full capacity and achieved positive mine-to-model grade reconciliations. The planned life of mine is approximately 8 years with total expected production of more than 500 Koz of gold. Further substantial exploration potential exists within the existing license area of 40 km2.

Location History Geology Operations Reserves and Resources Exploration

Svetloye is located in the Okhotsk district of the Khabarovsk Krai in the Far East of Russia. The project lies in unpopulated remote mountainous area with taiga forest in the valleys and tundra covering hilltops.

Svetloye is located 240km south-west of Okhotsk, the access port for Khakanja mine (sold in 2018). It is accessible by a 380 km winter road from Okhotsk and by 92 km winter road from Unchi seaport which will be used for delivery of fuel and supplies during the summer navigation period. Between May and November access to the site is by helicopter.


The deposit was discovered in 1973. Significant exploration was undertaken between 2003 and 2005 with a total of 38 trenches excavated and 28 diamond drillholes drilled. Between 2006 and 2009 further 62 trenches were excavated and 273 diamond drillholes drilled. Total drilling amounted to 42,730 m and total trenching comprised 124,994 m3.

Polymetal acquired Svetloye exploration and mining license in December 2010 for the total consideration of US$ 9.25 million. In 2013 Polymetal drilled 17 diamond drillholes totaling 2,956 m and 33 reverse circulation (RC) drillholes totaling 6,474 m.

The construction at Svetloye has been completed nine months ahead of the original schedule. Total capital expenditure comprised US$ 60 million, which is 33% below initial project estimates, primarily driven by the significant devaluation of the Russian Rouble since the start of construction in 2014. The leaching process commenced on 15 August 2016 and the first 10 Koz of gold were produced at the Merrill Crowe circuit on 29 August 2016.

Gold mineralisation at Svetloye is formed by vuggy silica (secondary quartzite) associated with a high-sulphidation epithermal system. Most of gold mineralisation is very fine grained and disseminated. Gold-bearing silicification occurs as flat lenses or pods, which outcrop at the surface and have true widths of between 20 and 120 m. Higher-grade zones are adjacent to breccias. The oxidation zone develops to a depth of 150 m.

Three ore zones (Emmy, Elena and Tamara) are proposed to be mined at Svetloye. Open pit mining will be conducted by conventional drill-and-blast and truck haulage. The average strip ratio over the life of the mine is 1.4 t/t. The open pits will reach the maximum depth of 130 meters.


Open-pit mining

Svetloye ore is processed by heap leaching with the pads and the plant located within 5 km from the main pits. Ore is crushed only in warm season to minus 20 mm, mixed with crushed limestone, and stacked by trucks in lifts with the height of 15 meters. Solution from the heap leach pad will be processed through the 400 m3/h capacity Merrill-Crowe plant.

Ore Reserves Tonnage, Mt Gold grade, g/t Silver grade, g/t Copper grade, % GE grade, g/t Gold, Koz Silver, Moz Copper, Kt GE, Koz
Total 5.2 2.6 4 - 2.6 435 0.6 - 435
Mineral Resources Tonnage, Mt Gold grade, g/t Silver grade, g/t Copper grade, % GE grade, g/t Gold, Koz Silver, Moz Copper, Kt GE, Koz
Total 1.7 2.4 3 - 2.4 133 0.2 - 134
Levoberezhny 2.2 4.1     4.1 294     294
Total 3.9       3.4 427 0.2   428
  • At Svetloye, an increase in additional Mineral Resources was achieved, adding 86 Koz of gold. In 2019, the Company plans to undertake additional prospecting drilling and trenching at the flanks of the Svetloye deposit.
  • At Levoberezhny (35 km from Svetloye), the results of in-fill drilling confirmed the continuity of mineralisation and the viability of using heap-leaching to recover gold.