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The Kamchatka gold mine will live

General Director of JSC "Gold of Kamchatka" Viktor Radko tells about what opportunities can not be missed in the Far East

- Viktor Vasilyevich, there is almost a "gold rush" in Kamchatka now. For the past fifteen years, gold mining enterprises have not worked, but "just were." Now they have begun to actively develop, their production has revived. They even say that soon this industry will have a chance to overtake the fish industry - the regional "flagship" ... Is this a real forecast or a utopia?

The Kamchatka gold mine will live
- This is a rather general question and the point is not even reality or utopianism - the fishing industry is historically the flagship in the region. Gold mining is very promising and can become the second pillar of the region's economy, but you are right: we have really become much more active. For example, such a deposit as "Amethystovoye" is being developed. We launched it in September. In 4 months, in a record short time, they reached the design indicators - 4 tons of gold per year. In January, the "landmark" first ton was mined.

Everything has a background, and so does our industry. The first gold mining enterprise in the region was the Aginsky GOK, and when we launched it in 2006, it showed its profitability, and the profit received went into business - for the construction of Amethystovoy. Then a crisis broke out - and, perhaps, the project would have to be frozen, but our shareholders, the Renova Group of Companies, decided to continue construction and launch a unique production in the north of the region. This alone, in my opinion, confirms the seriousness of our intentions.

In the field of gold mining in Kamchatka, three large companies are now working - our Gold of Kamchatka, as well as Alarming Zarevo and Sigma. Such competition in itself proves the industry's prospects in the region. In addition, on the entire peninsula, only 5-10% of all reserves of precious metals, so we have room to grow, and we intend to invest heavily in geological exploration. In 2016 alone, several hundred million rubles will be allocated for these purposes.

- What prevented you from doing this before, even before all the crises?

- As I said, our company came to the region before the crises. The business was connected with the need to build infrastructure, sometimes practically from scratch. We have built over 130 kilometers of roads ourselves. Now, when the development of the Far East has been declared a priority, the state is making significant efforts to attract investors to the region. For this, power grids, roads and so on are being built, that is, conditions are being created for the region to find its strategic investors.

- Where is Amethystovoye located and how is the production logistics built on it?

- "Amethystovoe" is located in the Penzhinsky region, it is about a thousand kilometers from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. You fly two and a half hours by plane to the village of Tilichiki, then 180 km to the field by helicopter.

More than 800 people work there on a rotational basis.

- But are all these costs justified? Does this business make sense?

- In our business, the price of a product is determined by the world market, that is, all gold miners sell metal at the same price, and the main task is to reduce the cost of production. Projects in Kamchatka, despite the worldwide decline in gold prices, remain profitable and allow for long-term development plans due to the high metal content in the ore - about 9-10 g / t and the relative ease of open pit mining.

If they did not pay off (albeit over time), no one would have developed production. And it holds great promise. At "Amethystovo" - vein gold deposits. There we have a mine and a factory that produces an alloy of silver and gold. Advanced technology is used to extract from ore 95-96% metal. We then take it to the refinery, where the precious metal is separated and sold.

The reserves will allow the field to be exploited for a fairly long period. To date, they are approved by the State Reserves Committee and amount to 52 tons. But we expect to significantly increase this figure due to additional geological exploration, since there are many veins that were not included in the number of approved reserves.

- Is your work limited only to this deposit?

- We are not limited to one project. We have 9 licenses under which we work. For example, in the near future we are launching the Baranyevskoye field, which will be used to compensate for the decommissioning capacities of the Aginskoye GOK. There is also Kumroch, a very promising project. The reserves there promise to be very large. We are going to conduct drilling operations at these two fields, in 2016 it is for these purposes that a part of the profit received from the operation of Ametistovoy will be directed. Additional equipment has already been purchased for drilling wells on cut veins.

According to our calculations, the mineral resource base of the Aginskoye deposit will be sufficient for several more years. But every year we carry out a set of measures aimed at ensuring the growth of reserves. The Baranyevskoye field will give Aginskoye an additional resource base for another twenty years. We still carry ore to the Aginsky GOK from deposits located relatively close to it - from "Zolotoy" and "Kungurtsevskoye". A road has already been built there, it can be operated all year round. With "Amethystov" it is more difficult, you can get there only by winter road.

- Viktor Vasilyevich, what will happen when the fields explored in Soviet times are developed? As far as I know, geological exploration in Kamchatka is practically not carried out now ...

- Firstly, we are conducting additional exploration of discovered fields on our own, increasing the resource base. Secondly, as I said above, the development of the Far East is a priority. Both Rosgeologia and investors will be interested in expanding the region's mineral resource base.

- Now the gold mining business in Kamchatka needs solid investments. Are you counting only on your own funds or on government assistance represented, for example, by the Far East Development Fund?

- Basically, of course, our finances are shareholders' funds and bank loans. All fixed assets have already been purchased. Naturally, we will build roads, build additional facilities in the village of Tilichiki, and so on. There will be a lot of expenses. The Far East Development Fund supports the construction of infrastructure for newly developed fields. As I already said, a significant and necessary object for today is the construction of a road. I must say that it was not easy to get money from the Fund, but our strategy and business plan fit into their investment policy. Now we expect to receive the RIP status for Amethystovoy - a regional investment project, the same as for the Aginsky GOK.

- And what benefits does it give?

- We have already received an exemption from property tax for Amethystovoy. That's all for now. The RIP status will allow us to temporarily reduce the mineral extraction tax deductions. Now any ways of saving are important, we are optimizing all stages so as not to slow down the pace of development of projects in the region.

Some of the equipment (the same drilling rigs) we can only buy imported. But on the other hand, BELAZ and KAMAZ trucks began to be purchased for the transportation of ore.

- We're talking about business logic now. But what will your business give to the region in which it operates?

- First, jobs. And not seasonal, but permanent. At our enterprises, employees receive, above all, stability. In addition, their salaries are decent - at Ametistovoye, for example, it is on average about 80 thousand rubles a month. Now in Kamchatka we have over 1800 people. We are ready to invest in personnel training - we invite specialists for this, but after completing the courses and passing the exams, the “teachers” leave. In the future, with the development of the mining industry and gold mining, (naturally, with the participation of the state and with state licensing), vocational training and retraining centers may appear that would operate on a regular basis. I think that such a professional reorientation would be of interest to many residents of Kamchatka. One example: there are many drivers in the region, but special skills and qualifications are required to work on heavy vehicles. Why not organize courses that, I'm sure, would be willingly taken by local cadres seeking to master more modern technology?

And, naturally, our main contribution to the region's economy is taxes. This year alone, the Kamchatka Treasury will receive from us about 800 million rubles. Not a bad "addition" to the budget, which would not have been without the development of our business. It should also be understood that no large-scale production grows by itself. There is always synergy: roads and power grids are being created, shops and housing are being built (our shift camps at Aginsky GOK and Ametistovoy are modern comfortable dormitories with double rooms, a canteen, a bathhouse, a gym, etc.). In addition, local business is developing, because we buy the necessary goods here, if possible, and do not bring them "from the mainland." The territory receives an incentive for development.

- In addition, regional authorities usually insist that business be socially responsible, build kindergartens and schools ...

- Just in this case, no one demands or asks anything from us. Everything we do is our own initiative. Precisely because we feel our social responsibility, and not just declare it. Some businessmen, of course, say "I pay taxes, what else do you want from me?" I believe that sometimes you just need to help the territory, because this is normal and correct. The same goes for ecology. Using the wealth of nature, we must return it in full. And I think it is absolutely correct that according to today's laws we cannot “cross the river” without permission. We carefully spend millions to restore the fish population, control the process of utilization of production waste so as not to harm the environment (tundra is a very fragile ecosystem, it is easy to destroy it, it is extremely difficult to restore it). A closed water supply cycle and an isolated solid waste storage facility operate at Amethystovoye. We export them in the form of the so-called cake (undissolved residue obtained after leaching ore components), this is a generally accepted world technology.

- Viktor Vasilyevich, and you yourself, as they say, "whose will you be?" How many years have you lived in Kamchatka and where have you worked before?

- I have always worked where the company directed me - first in Kazakhstan, then 11 years in the Northern Urals, five years in Komi, two years ago I was invited here, to the "Gold of Kamchatka". My activity was not always connected with gold, but always with mining, since I am a mining engineer by profession.

- Based on your rich experience, how does Kamchatka look like in comparison with other regions that you know well?

- Each region has its own characteristics, charm, dignity. Cannot be compared. Even outwardly. For example, Kazakhstan is beautiful in early spring, when tulips are blooming and the steppe lies so joyful. But at the end of April everything was already burnt out and brownish-yellow. The most beautiful place is the Ural - dense taiga, mountains. Komi with its cleanest rivers, excellent fishing. About Kamchatka - what can I say for a long time, everything has been said before me about its beauty and power. And in other things the same way when it comes to the economy, resources, production. We need to see these strengths and take them into account to the maximum, they are different in each region.

- What are the future plans of Zolot Kamchatka in the region? Will you buy new licenses for the development of deposits?

- You now know about the nearest plans, and as for the new licenses - if they are interesting, why not.

- Are you going to be listed on the exchange, as your fellow competitors are already doing?

- Now the main task is to grow, in fact, three times in production (up to 5 6 tons of gold) and keep all development plans, which will allow us to enter 10-ku largest in Russia. This is an ambitious and difficult task, 2016 should show whether we can cope with it. The shareholders will decide what to do next.
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