Barrick Gold’s last asset in Russia may resume development
The Canadian Barrick Gold is considering resuming the development of Fedorova Tundra, the company’s last asset in Russia and one of Russia’s largest platinoid fields.
So far, Barrick Gold has held a license for the development of the field through Fedorovo Resources, its local subsidiary, and has appealed to the Russian government with a request for its renewal.
The field is located in the Murmansk region of Russia and the volume of investments in its development may reach US$1-1.2 billion.
Barrick entered the project during the period of active expansion of its business in the CIS region in 2004, however the beginning of a series of economic crisis in Russia and the sale of the company’s stake in Highland Gold Mining, one of Russia’s largest gold mining companies, in 2012 resulted in the fact that Fedorova Tundra remained the only asset of Barrick Gold in Russia.
The resources of Fedorova Tundra are estimated at 1.2 million ounces of platinum (with a content of 0.3 grams per tonne) and 5.5 million ounces of palladium (0.9 grams per tonne).
Barrick Gold may receive permission for resuming development of the field already during the next weeks.
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According to data of the authorities of the Murmansk region, to date about US$60 million have been invested in the development of Fedorova Tundra, however the needed volume of investments is estimated at 49 billion rubles (US$840 million).
It is planned that the majority of these funds will be invested in the building of a new mine and processing complex, that will be built on the basis of the field.
Up to 30% of the needed sum should be allocated from the own resources of Barrick Gold, while the remaining are expected to be provided by the banks in the form of loans.
One of the possible options for the implementation of the project may involve the attraction of co-investors, while among the potential bidders are expected to be some Russian mining companies.
Russian analysts in the field of mining believe that implementation of the project may be associated with serious difficulties for Barrick Gold, taking into account that the current global prices for platinoids remain low. At the same time the costs for infrastructure, in contrast, have significantly increased in recent years.
At the same time, according to analysts of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, weak Russian currency and the predicted recovery of global platinoid prices may make the development of Fedorova Tundra very profitable for Barrick and other potential investors.
The new complex will have the processing capacity of 6-8 million tonnes of ore per year and will be designed to produce 200,000-300,000 ounces of platinoud annually.
In the meantime, in contrast to Barrick Gold, leading Russian mining companies are not in rush to start the development of local platinoid fields. For example, Norilsk Nickel, one of Russia’s largest mining companies and the world’s leading nickel producer, currently has no plans to start the development of Maslovskoye platinoids field, the Russian platinoids field, which is located near Norilsk.
Eugene Gerden is an international free-lance writer, based in St. Petersburg, who specializes on writing in the field of mining, metals and rare earth metals. ... <Read more about Eugene Gerden>