21 Jan 2010 12:54

Uzbekistan's Almalyk to invest $100 mln in copper mine expansion

TASHKENT. Jan 21 (Interfax) - The Almalyk Mining & Metallurgical Combine, Uzbekistan's only copper producer, has started a project costing $98.7 million to refurbish and expand the Kalmakyr copper mine, which went into service back in 1957.

A source at Almalyk's management told Interfax that the project should be completed late 2011. Design capacity, currently 27 million tonnes of ore per year, will be increased by 3.5 million tpa, the source said.

Tenders for equipment supplies should be called at the end of this quarter.

The Uzbek Fund for Reconstruction and Development will provide $63 million, local commercial banks - $20 million and Almalyk itself - $15.7 million.

The Kalmakyr copper-porphyry field contains gold, silver, molybdenum selenium, tellurium and rhenium besides copper.

More than 20 excavators and 20 drilling rigs operate at the site.

Reports have said Almalyk planned to raise copper production to 80,000 tonnes in 2009, from 71,000 tonnes in 2008, and to keep zinc output level at 60,000 tonnes. The plant boosted refined copper output 19% year-on-year in January-September 2009 to 61,700 tonnes, a source at the plant has told Interfax. Zinc metal production, which is by tolling only, fell 20% to 30,000 tonnes in the nine months, the source said.

Almalyk produces molybdenum besides copper and zinc and is Uzbekistan's second biggest gold and silver producer.

Almalyk, which is based in the Tashkent region, consists of two mining enterprises, two concentrating plants and two metallurgical plants. It mines the Kalmakyr and Sary-Cheku copper-porphyry fields in the Tashkent region itself and the Uch-Kulach lead-zinc-barium field in the Jizak region.

Almalyk's annual output exceeds $300 million. The plant exports approximately 60% of its metal - 5% of it to the CIS.