Russia’s top gold producer Polyus (LON, MOEX: PLZL) said on Thursday its giant Sukhoi Log gold deposit in Siberia was the world’s biggest by reserves both among greenfield assets and operating mines.
The deposit, said the company, holds 40 million ounces of proven gold reserves as measured by international JORC standards. This means Sukhoi Log (which translates to “dry gully” in English) contains a fifth of Russia’s entire gold reserves.
It also makes Polyus the world’s second-largest bullion miner by proven reserves.
At 540 million tonnes of ore with an average grade of 2.3 grams of gold per tonne, the asset is slightly bigger than Seabridge’s KSM project in Canada, which holds an estimated 38.8 million ounces of gold, and Donlin Gold in Alaska, with reserves estimated at 33.8 million ounces of gold.
“We are pleased with the results . . . The publication of the maiden ore reserve estimate represents a significant milestone for Polyus’ long-term development strategy, and confirms Sukhoi Log’s position as one of the world’s highest-calibre gold deposits,” Pavel Grachev, chief executive, said in the statement.
Polyus and its partner bought the rights to develop Sukhoi Log from the Russian state in 2017.
The gold producer will soon be the sole owner of the massive deposit. It agreed in September to pay $128.2 million to speed up the acquisition of its partner, Russian state defence group Rostec. The deal will give Polyus the 22% in the deposit that it does not already own.
The company also announced that its total gold output in the third quarter had climbed 2% from the same period last year to 771,000 ounces. Estimated gold sales also rose by 36% to $1.44 billion.
Production and development plans for Sukhoi Log, which lies almost 6,000km from Moscow in the far east of Siberia, are yet to be announced.
Polyus, which is already building a local airport to serve the remote site, has previously pegged development costs at about $2.5 billion.
A pre-feasibility study is expected to be published by the end of the year.