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Voro

An established gold asset with stable free cash flow and our lowest cash costs

Quick facts

Location Sverdlovsk Region, Russia
Ownership 100%
Operating mines Voro
Key exploration projects Tamunier, Pesherny
Mining open-pit
Processing 950 Ktpa CIP circuit, 1 Mtpa heap leach circuit
Reserves (JORC) 1.5 Moz GE at 2.0 g/t
Resources (JORC) 1.3 Moz GE at 4.9 g/t
Production start date 2000 (HL), 2005 (CIP)
Life of mine 2028 (CIP)
Employees 741
Key 2019 numbers
107 Koz Production (GE)
1,050 Kt Ore processed at CIP
US$383 GE/oz Total cash costs

Overview

Voro is one of Polymetal’s very first key gold assets acquired in 1998. Voro comprises an open-pit mine, a 950 Ktpa carbon-in-leach processing plant and a seasonal 1000 Ktpa heap leach circuit that accommodate the processing of both primary and oxidised ore. Since its start up, the asset has had an excellent track record, delivering robust operational results and significant free cash flow contributions. Today, Voro is in a mature stage of operation with declining production and a short life of mine. In order to offset the trend, the Company is focused on extending the life of mine through nearby exploration targets (Tamunier, Pesherny) with the potential addition of a flotation circuit to the existing processing plant.

Exploration drilling in 2017-2018 identified substantial mineralization below the open pit with technical studies currently underway to determine the feasibility of underground mining, which can further extend the life of mine.

Location History Geology and Mineralisation Operations Reserves and Resources Exploration

Voro is located in Russia’s Sverdlovsk region, approximately 370 km north of the regional centre of Ekaterinburg (population of 1.5 million) and 25 km south of the city of Krasnoturinsk (population of 65,000). Voro is easily accessible from Ekaterinburg via the federal highway that runs 7 km from the site. The industrialised and moderately populated area around the deposit is home to several mining companies, ensuring good access to the grid and other infrastructure. In addition, there is good railway access with a Group-owned spur located 18 km from the site.

Location

The deposit was first discovered in 1985. In 1998, the Group acquired the company that held the mining licence for Voro. In 1999 mining resumed and heap leaching circuit for oxidised ore was launched in 2000. In 2005, the CIP plant was commissioned with a capacity of 450 ktpa. The plant was expanded to 600 ktpa in 2007 by replacing three-stage crushing with one-stage crushing and SAG milling. The plant was further expanded to 940 ktpa in 2008 by removing bottlenecks from thickening, leaching and filtration sections. In 2010, mining started on the new southern pit to extract ore from an extension of the main deposit.

The Voro deposit is a fracture zone where the ore body generally lies in the footwall of the fault.The main mineralised zones occur within brecciated limestone and are erratic in shape, not visually identifiable and require dense grade control drilling for final delineation prior to mining. A highly variable weathering pattern is developed across the deposit, with a broad oxidation surface developed to a depth of 65 m, but zones as deep as 100 m are developed where karstic features have formed in the limestone. An extension to the main Voro deposit of mainly oxide material has been outlined in the south.

Oxidised gold at Voro occurs mostly in free form. In primary ore, gold occurs in a variety of forms. These include free, inter grown with host minerals, associated with pyrite and attached to silicates. The highly variable mineralogy of primary ore requires careful selection of processing regimes.

Flowcharts

The Voro deposit is mined solely by open-pit mining methods and this is expected to continue until the end of its mine life. Ultimately, the mine design is the excavation of two pits: a 240 m deep pit to the north; and an 80 m shallow pit to the south. A conventional truck-and-shovel method is employed with drilling and blasting primarily used in the deep pit. Both primary and oxidised ore are stockpiled and blended near the pit and then transported to the processing facilities located 6 km away. Waste dumps are located 1 to 2 km from the pit.

Two processes are used to extract gold from the two types of ore mined at Voro. Oxidised ore is processed by heap leaching with a capacity of 1,000 ktpa, while primary ore is processed by milling/CIP with a capacity of 950 ktpa.

The primary ore is crushed in a jaw crusher and further treated in a three-stage milling circuit (one SAG mill and two ball mills). A standby circuit, which operated before the expansion (three-stage crushing), is available during the SAG mill downtime. After milling, slurry is thickened and leached (approximately 48 hours residence time) in a CIP circuit. Further processing includes desorption, electrolysis and smelting to doré. Tails are filtered and transported to a dry-stacking tailings storage facility immediately adjacent to the 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
Voro 8.8 1.5 3 - 1.5 429 0.8 - 436
North Kaluga 0.3 6.7 101 5.8 17.1 70 1.1 18.9 179
Maminskoye 14.7 1.9 - - 1.9 - - - 913
Total 23.8 - - - 2.0 1,412 1,904 18.9 1,527
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
Voro 0.3 2.6 5 - 2.6 25 0.1 - 25
Tamunier 2.7 3.4 9 - 3.4 292 0.8 - 296
Maminskoye 2.1 1.4 - - 1.4 99 - - 99
Saum 1,3 2.4 45 2.11 9.8 97 1.8 26.8 400
Pesherny 2.0 7.7 - - 7.7 505 - - 505
Total 8.4 - - - 4.9 1,017 2,657 26.8 1,325
  • Additional Mineral Resources of Voro hub remained mostly unchanged over the previous year at 1.3 Moz of GE with an average grade of 4.9 g/t.
  • At Voro, a total of 10.5 km of exploration drilling was completed in 2019 to estimate underground mineral resources on the northern flank and to estimate mineral resources of the oxidized ores for open-pit mining on the western flank.
  • At Pescherny, 12.4 km was drilled. Technological studies and a set of field and laboratory hydrogeological and engineering-geological studies were completed.
  • In 2020, Polymetal plans to prepare an initial Ore Reserve and the updated Mineral Resource estimate of Pescherny deposit, as well as to complete exploration of the underground resources at Voro deposit and to continue exploration in its surrounding area.