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KAZ to double processing capacity at Aktogay copper mine with US$1.2B expansion

KAZ Minerals PLC moved ahead with a US$1.2 billion expansion of the processing facilities at its Aktogay copper mine in Kazakhstan, doubling its processing capacity from 2021.

The board approved the construction of a second concentrator, which will double the current sulfide ore processing capacity to 50 million tonnes per annum.

Copper output at Aktogay will increase by 80,000 tonnes to an annual average of 170,000 tonnes from 2022 to 2027 and to 130,000 tonnes afterward, the company said Dec. 21.

The company noted that the life of the sulfide ore body will reduce to about 28 years, from over 50 years, because of the higher processing volumes.

KAZ will invest about US$200 million in 2018, with the rest to be spent from 2019 to 2021.

CEO Oleg Novachuk said "the capital expenditure over the period to 2021 for the expansion will be supported by strong cash flows from our new, low cost operations at Bozshakol and Aktogay."

Sustaining capital expenditure will increase to US$50 million to US$60 million per annum from 2022 onward, from US$30 to US$40 million.

Meanwhile, the net cash cost guidance to 2027 is unchanged following the expansion, at US$1.00 per pound to US$1.20 per pound.

The construction will be managed by the company's projects division, with contracts to be tendered in 2018, and the mining fleet will be upgraded to support the higher ore throughput.

KAZ declared commercial operations at the Aktogay plant in early October and said it expects the plant to meet or exceed the upper end of its full-year 2017 copper production guidance range of 70,000 to 85,000 tonnes.