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The Muruntau gold mine located in Uzbekistan is one of the largest open pit gold mines in the world. It is also the world’s fifth deepest open-pit mine. It produces 2Moz gold per annum. Navoi Mining & Metallurgy Combinat (NGMK) owns the mine.
The mine was discovered in 1958. It measures about 3.5km by three kilometres and has a current mining depth of 600m, which is planned to be extended beyond 1,000m. Surface mining works commenced in 1967.
Reserves, geology and mineralisation of the Muruntau gold mine
The gold ore reserves and resources at Muruntau including historical production are estimated to be approximately 170 million oz.
The gold mine is located in the Kyzyl Kum Desert of Uzbekistan. The Kyzyl Kum area is made up of three main tectonic units, of which the oldest and major unit is the Besopan formation. The rocks are classified to be of Lower Palaeozoic carbonaceous and sulphidic clastic segments.
The Muruntau deposit is located within the Beltau-Kurama volcano-plutonic belt. The belt stretches in arc shape for 1,300km to 1,350km from the Valeryanov zone of the Urals in the west to the Chatkal ridges in the east.
The region has huge deposits of turquoise along with gold and arsenic deposits. Gold occurs in microassemblages together with tellurides and selenotellurides of Bismuth mineral. The Tashkura region within the mine produces high-quality phosphorite.
Mining at Uzbekistan’s Muruntau gold mine
Gold mining at Muruntau is conducted using a truck and conveyor ore transportation system. The overburden is taken to the crushing and transhipping points using cyclic flow technology.
The ore is transported using steeply inclined SIC-270 conveyor, one rumble, two spreaders and two conveyer lines with a belt width of 2,000mm.
The conveyor has a lifting height of 270m and an angle of 37 degrees, which reduces the length of the ore mass transport by road by more than 3.5km.
The conveyor can handle one million tonnes of ore per year with a hill climbing ability of approximately 37%. It has a capacity of transporting 50,000 tonnes per day.
The rock is dumped directly to the surface using Rocky loader-stacker-3500 dump hopper. The grinding loading complex comprises of grinding-loading point and loading-storing complex.
The ore is crushed using Metso LT160 crusher equipped with advanced Metso DNA automation system. It includes a four-stage ore crushing system and a screening system. Crushed ore is transported to the hydrometallurgical plant for refining and gold production.
Ore processing and gold extraction at Muruntau
Processing of ore at the Muruntau mine is done at hydrometallurgical plant No.2 (HMP-2) which was installed in 1969.
The crushing and sorting complex processes the off-balance ores from the open-pit stockpiles to increase the ore feed reliability.
Gold is extracted using the heap leaching method that helps in efficient extraction of gold, even from low-grade ores. Sorption and filter-free process is used for extracting the gold. It also extracts refined sliver and palladium by-product.
Details of construction and machinery used at the gold mine
The mining fleet of Muruntau includes 200 BELAZ-75307 mining dump trucks of 220MT capacity. In addition, two Hitachi excavators with 19.4 cubic metres bucket capacity and one Russian-made ECG-15M excavator with 15 cubic meters capacity are used.
Contractors involved with Uzbekistan’s Muruntau gold mine
Alteko was awarded the contract for installing the ore mining-and-transport complex at Muruntau mine. Novokramatorsk Machinery Plant provided the spare parts and components for the conveyor complex.
Metso was awarded the contract to provide Nordberg LT160 crusher for the mine. It also provided two MP1000 cone crushers, screens and VSI impact crushers as part of the contract. BELAZ was awarded the contract to supply 220MT mining dump trucks and BELAZ-76135 water-sprinkler.
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