Location and History
The Aprelkovo gold deposit is situated in the Shilkinskii district, near to the towns of Shilka and Nerchinsk and approximately 120km east of the regional centre of Chita, and can be easily accessed via a paved road. The deposit is located approximately 3km to the south of the navigable River Shilka. The Trans-Siberian railway is located on the north bank of the River Shilka, with the nearest stations of Shilka (regional centre); Kholbon and Priiskvaya, at distances of 20km, 7km and 45km respectively from the deposit.
Power supply is provided from two power lines (110 and 10kv) running through the licence area. A 35kv line also terminates at the mine. Industrial water is supplied from Shilka River, whereas drinking water is obtained from a well close to the Oskino Stream, to the north of the mine.
The elevation of the area ranges from 580 to 675m asl. The typical landscape of the deposit area consists of low rolling hills.
The climate is extreme continental with a long winter and short, hot summer. The maximum temperature is +37°C whereas the minimum is -46°C, with the annual average of -1.6°C. Annual precipitation is in the range of 300 - 600mm, with most of it falling in August. Rivers are frozen from November to the end of April/beginning of May. The thickness of the snow cover in winter is usually 150 - 200mm and in winter, soil is frozen to a depth of 3 - 4m.
Nordgold acquired the mine in 2007.
In 2016, the regional tax authority decided to impose an additional tax payment of 229 million roubles (approximately US$3.5 million) on the Aprelkovo mine operations related to the period 2011 and 2012. The additional tax assessment mainly comprises a further royalty, which was calculated by the tax authority based on the disputable taxation of lower recoveries. This assessment was confirmed by the Arbitration Court of Appeal. In July 2016 the Court of Cassation confirmed the decision of the Arbitration Court of Appeal. The claim was specific to Aprelkovo and is not expected to impact other Nordgold mines in Russia.
The additional tax assessment will result in Aprelkovo generating negative free cash flows, which are now expected to continue for the remaining two years life of mine. As a result, Aprelkovo, the smallest mine in Nordgold’s portfolio by some distance, will be unsustainable as a standalone entity. These circumstances have resulted in the decision to file a petition for bankruptcy of Aprelkovo. The observation procedure was introduced by the Arbitration Court of Moscow on 22 December 2016.
Operating and Financial Highlights
|Run of mine (kt)||476||5,896||10,347||12,167||9,826||8,667||9,968|
|Waste mined (kt)||457||4,544||8,080||10,374||7,365||7,039||8,367|
|Ore mined (kt)||19||1,352||2,267||1,793||2,461||1,628||1,602|
|Stripping ratio (tn/tn)||24.3||3.4||3.6||5.8||3.0||4.3||5.2|
|Ore processed (kt)||912||1,485||1,851||1,644||1,465||2,577||1,627|
|Gold production (koz)||9.8||19.8||31.7||32.7||35.9||30.3||35.0|
|Gold sold (koz)||9.7||19.8||31.8||32.7||35.8||30.4||35.3|
|Average realised gold price per ounce sold (US$/oz)||1,237||1,154||1,289||1,333||1,669||1,613||1,252|
|Total Cash Cost (US$/oz)||856||669||994||1,020||863||655||628|
The processing operation at Aprelkovo uses heap leach technology to recover gold from crushed ore.
Historically, gold was recovered from oxide and, more recently, transitional ore types which achieved gold recoveries of 63.7% and 57% respectively. However, both of these ore types have now been exhausted.
As an interim measure, primary ore is currently being treated. This is less amenable to processing using heap leaching than the oxide or transitional ores. As a result, gold recoveries have reduced to circa 46-48%