Bozshakol copper mine, which is being developed by Kazakhmys, is the largest single copper mine development in Kazakhstan in terms of volume and value, and is one of the largest undeveloped copper deposits in the world.
Approval for the project was granted in August 2011 and main construction activities began in 2012. Pre-production mining is expected to begin later this year and the project is scheduled for commissioning in the second half of 2015.
Bozshakol project is expected to produce 75,000t of copper concentrate a year over its 40-year production life, and its development is expected to create 1,500 construction jobs and more than 1,500 operational jobs.
China Development Bank and Samruk-Kazyna financed the $1.8bn project.
Bozshakol mine location, geology and reserves
The Bozshakol greenfield copper project is located 250km east of Astana in the Pavlodar Oblast in northern Kazakhstan. The open pit mine comprises of two pits; the main Central pit and East pit. Central pit is proposed to be developed first and is estimated to have a mine life of 33 years, while East pit is expected to operate for approximately 20 years.
The porphyry copper deposit is located within the Middle Cambrian Bozshakol magmatic arc, which consists of tholeiitic basalt and volcanogenic sedimentary rocks. The ore body also contains valuable by-products of gold and molybdenum. Bozshakol deposit comprises small diorite and quartz diorite stocks and pre-mineralisation Late Cambrian dikes of porphyritic tonalite and tonalite porphyry.
The mine is estimated to contain 1.17 billion tonnes (Bt) of copper ore in measured, indicated and inferred categories, at an average grade of 0.35% copper. The copper project is also estimated to contain 5.25 million ounces of gold and 57,000t of molybdenum.
Mining and processing of ore at the copper project
Conventional drill and blast mining methods will be employed for ore extraction at the Bozshakol mine, followed by truck and shovel operation.
The processing infrastructure includes a concentrator plant with the capacity to process 25Mt of ore a year and a 5Mt a year capacity clay plant. The extracted ore will be crushed in a primary gyratory crusher before being fed to the concentrator stockpile. Crushed ore will then be transported to the primary and secondary grinding sections via underground feeders.
At the grinding section, the ore will be processed into slurry using a 28MW gearless drive semi-autogenous (SAG mill) and two gearless drive ball mills. The slurry will then be delivered to the flotation section of the concentrator.
Copper concentrate will be gradually separated as the waste tailings undergo flotation, with molybdenum being separated at the end of the flotation process. The obtained copper concentrate will be pumped into a filter facility where it will be de-watered and stockpiled in powder form. This powder is to be loaded onto rail wagons and shipped for smelting. The molybdenum product will also be de-watered, dried and packaged before being shipped to the customer.
Between 2015 to 203, the Bozshakol processing plant is expected to process 30Mt of ore a year, to turn out 100,000t of copper concentrate. From 2013 to 2056, this amount is expected to drop to 25Mt of ore being processed each year to produce 60,000t of copper concentrate.
Infrastructure facilities and construction
Major construction works being undertaken at Bozshakol copper project include the concentrator building, a 200kV power line and a permanent accommodation camp. Approximately 15,000t of structural steel, 10,000t of re-bar and 90,000m³ of concrete are estimated to be used for constructing the concentrator plant.
A new rail spur is also being built from the existing Bozshakol railway station to the mine site in order to transport supplies. The rail line will be complemented by a new road connecting the site to the existing Astana-Pavlodar road.
Power required by the mine will be sourced from the Ekibastuz GRES-1 power plant located to the east of the project site. Water will be supplied from the Satpayev Canal located approximately 25km east of the copper mine.
Contractors involved with Bozshakol
Alsim Alarko was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the Bozshakol copper project in September 2011. Aker Solutions was received a $15m contract for preparing the feasibility study and conducting basic engineering works.
FLSmidth was gained a contract worth $63m for designing the copper concentrator and supplying the process technology. FLSmidth will also procure auxiliary third party items as well as providing erection supervision, start-up and commissioning services for the concentrator plant.
Xstrata Technology will provide fine-grinding technology for the Bozshakol copper concentrator. WEG is to supply major equipment for the project’s clay plant.