Hambledon Mining has commenced underground mining operations at the Sekisovskoye gold project in eastern Kazakhstan, one month ahead of schedule.

The ore at the project will be initally extracted through a modified room and post pillar method by mining contractors using their own machinery.

Hambledon will continue the mining operations through 2012 using a combination of room and pillar, and bulk mining methods.

The firm is also continuing development of the main decline and infrastructure such as de-watering stations and exploration drill chambers.

The project is expected to reach a long-term target of about 850,000tpa by 2017.

Golder Associates is currently conducting an engineering study regarding the design of the further development of the underground mine at the project.