London-listed Highland Gold has received an extension to the licence requirements for its Taseevskoye project, in Russia's Transbaikalia region, which will enable it to delay start-up at the proposed openpit mine to 2013, the firm said on Tuesday.
Highland, in which Toronto-based Barrick Gold holds a 20% stake and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's Millhouse LLC bought a 40% holding late last year, had said previously that it expected to start production at Taseevskoye in 2010.
The extension of the licence would allow for a “more favourable development programme”, the company said.
In the meantime, technical studies were under way to prepare an updated feasibility study for the project.
A 1997 study envisaged average annual production of 220 000 oz over an initial ten-year mine life, followed by a subsequent six-year period of low grade processing, according to Highland Gold's website.
OUTPUT UP 18%
The company also announced on Tuesday that production at its Mnogovershinnoye mine, in Siberia, increased 18% in the first half of this year, compared with the same period in 2007.
The mine produced 68 813 oz of gold during the six months, and remained on track to achieve a full-year target of between 155 000 and 165 000 oz, Highland Gold said in a trading update.
The firm will commission a second mine, Novoshirokinskoye, at the end of this year. Highland owns 50% of the project, which is a joint venture with Kazakhstan-based Kazzinc.
Construction is also scheduled to begin in September on the $500-million Mayskoye mine, which is expected to start production in 2010.
The mine is expected to produce between 250 000 oz/y and 275 000 oz/y of gold, for at least 12 years and is touted by the company as one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in Russia.