Mining Intelligence and News

Amulsar Project

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Mine TypeOpen Pit
  • Gold
  • Silver
Mining Method
  • Truck & Shovel / Loader
Mine Life12 years (as of Jan 1, 2019)
SnapshotAt the start of 2022, the Armenian government showed willingness to green-light the restart of the Amulsar project, a consequence of serious pressures both for economic reasons and from investors. Nonetheless, to date, the project remains blocked and embroiled in numerous court proceedings.


Lydian Armenia CJSC. 100 % Direct
Lydian Armenia CJSC is a mining company registered in the Republic of Armenia, which has the required permits to operate the Amulsar Gold Project.

Lydian Armenia is a 100% subsidiary of Lydian Canada Ventures owned by the US firm, Orion Mine Finance and Canadian firm, Osisko Gold Royalties, who both invest in mining and mineral sectors.


ContractorContractDescriptionRef. DateSource
unawarded or unknown Maintenance and shutdown A maintenance and repair contract (“MARC”) will provide the labour and tools to maintain all mining equipment. This contract was quoted to start at $1.8 M per year for the initial mine fleet and will increase to $3.4 M per year by the start of year 2 once the mine fleet has expanded. Oct 15, 2019
unawarded or unknown Drilling & Blasting All drilling and blasting will be contracted over the LOM. All equipment and labour will be provided. During pre-production, the contract will be at a unit rate of $1.25/tonne blasted. During production, the cost will be based on the following variable and fixed rates: - $13/m drilled; - $900,000 per year for drilling labour/supervision; - $16/m3 for blast hole stemming; and - $516,000 per year for blasting labour/supervision. Oct 15, 2019
unawarded or unknown Infrastructure Small equipment/road maintenance contract is setup to maintain the road from the plant site up to the crusher. The contractor will supply all equipment and labour. The cost for this is expected to be $3.0 M per year. Oct 15, 2019
unawarded or unknown Haulage A local contractor will be used to haul the crushed ore from the loadout bin to the leach pad utilizing 30 tonne haul trucks. Oct 15, 2019

Deposit type

  • IOCG
  • Epithermal
  • Orogenic


The Amulsar Project is a high-sulphidation epithermal deposit, but its close association with syn-depositional deformation adds a signature characteristic of orogenic gold systems. The deposit also has some characteristics of low temperature variants of IOCG deposits.

The Amulsar deposit is hosted in a thick pile of volcanogenic rocks thought to be related to the Tethyan magmatic arc/back-arc system. High-sulphidation epithermal deposits are associated normally with alteration grading from a central zone, dominated by silica-alunite alteration minerals, to an outer zone of argillic-kaolinite alteration mineral assemblages. At Amulsar, a similar sequence of alteration is observed, but the silica-alunite zone appears to be restricted to the mineralized vokanidastic and breccia rocks of the UV zone, and the argilic-kaolinite alteration is dominantly restricted to rocks of the LV zone. Both rock types are now strongly structurally interleaved, and mineralization is associated with subsequent deformation of this interleaved package.

The background alteration is characteristic of high.sulphidation epithermal systems, in which, fluids rich in magmatic volatiles cool and migrate to elevated crustal settings. The fluids arc commonly highly oxidized. Mineralization at Amulsar is associated with iron oxides. Iron sulphides have not been observed in significant quantities within the mineralized structures. The lack of micaceous alteration minerals associated with the gold mineralization indicates that fluid temperatures were likely less than 300'C, and within the range of temperatures associated with epithermal deposits. These oxidized fluids were injected into faults, fractures, and distant structures during an orogenic deformation that overprints the high¬sulphidation alteration. HOWever, the general absence of veining, and in particular, quartz veins, is atypical of most orogenic gold systems.

The Amulsar deposit was likely developed within a volcanic edifice with a protracted high-sulphidation fluid history that gradually developed into an epithermal level orogenic gold system that was perhaps still being fed by highly oxidized magmatic fluids.

Gold and silver mineralization at Amulsar is hosted predominately in UV rocks. Some mineralization occurs in LV rocks but usually in the vicinity of UV-LV contacts. The main gold mineralization is recognized as a hematite-gold event where mineralizing fluids deposited hematite, gold, probably silver, and traces of other metals. The hematite-gold event is thought to be a late event in the development of the Amulsar deposit.

Gold mineralization is controlled by the following features:

- Complex structural zones, particularly areas with variably oriented accommodation faults and fractures that link them;
- Porous and permeable lithological units, including hydrothermal breccias, volcaniclastic breccias systems; and
- Leached vuggy volcanics — allowing lateral migration of fluids away from structurally controlled conduits.

Silver mineralization is present at the Amulsar Project, but the genesis and distribution is not well understood. Silver mineralization does not correlate with gold mineralization. Average silver grades range from 2 g/t to 5 g/t and locally can occur in the 100 g/t to 200 g/t range.

Reserves at October 15, 2019

A summary of the mineral reserves for the project is shown using a cut-off grade of 0.20 g/t within the designed final pits for the Artavasdes, Tigranes and Erato deposits.
A cut-off grade of 0.20 g/t gold for this project based on an optimized open-pit shell based on a gold price of US$1,500 per ounce of gold and assuming an open-pit mining scenario.

Mineral Resources are reported inclusive of Mineral Reserves.
CategoryTonnage CommodityGradeContained Metal
Proven & Probable 119.3 Mt Gold 0.74 g/t 2,828 koz
Proven & Probable 119.3 Mt Silver 3.8 g/t 14,435 koz
Measured 58,100 kt Gold 0.76 g/t 1,420 koz
Measured 58,100 kt Silver 4.5 g/t 8,500 koz
Indicated 104,200 kt Gold 0.66 g/t 2,210 koz
Indicated 104,200 kt Silver 3.2 g/t 10,800 koz
Measured & Indicated 162,400 kt Gold 0.7 g/t 3,650 koz
Measured & Indicated 162,400 kt Silver 3.7 g/t 19,200 koz
Inferred 85,900 kt Gold 0.5 g/t 1,380 koz
Inferred 85,900 kt Silver 3.1 g/t 8,600 koz

Mining Methods

  • Truck & Shovel / Loader


The Amulsar deposit will be developed by open pit mining by mining 10 m benches using 22 cubic meter front shovels, and 180-t trucks. This configuration works well to maximize equipment utilization and productivity. Approximately half of the mining equipment has already been purchased and delivered to site.

Over the life of mine (LOM), three deposits will be mined and will be split into seven mining phases. The Tigranes and Artavasdes deposits are mined first, having higher value (combination of higher grades and a lower strip ratio) than the Erato deposit. Ore will be processed at a nominal production rate of 27,400 tpd (10 Mtpa). Ore material is either sent directly to the primary crusher, located several kilometers down-hill to the North of the open pits, or to stockpiles located close to the primary crusher. Waste material will initially be placed in the BRSF also located several kilometers down-hill to the North of the open pits. Over time, placement of the waste material will transition to being placed in- pit within the mined-out portions of the TAA open pits.

The primary haulage roads are required between the various open pit deposits and the primary ore crusher, and waste rock facilities. Roads are planned to be constructed using cut-and-fill techniques, utilizing waste rock sourced from the open pits, to achieve the designed alignment and grade. Roads within the waste rock storage facilities are designed to be all-fill construction.

The main in-pit haul roads and ramps are designed to have an overall road width allowance of 30 m. The selected road allowance is adequate for accommodating three times the width of the largest haul truck (180 tonne), with additional room for drainage ditches and safety berms.

In-Pit Haulage Road Design Parameters:
- Truck (180 tonne) operating width - 7.0 m;
- Running surface - 3x truck width - 21.0 m;
- Berm height (3/4 tire height) - 2.6 m;
- Berm width - 6.0 m;
- Ditch width - 3.0 m;
- Total Road Allowance - 30.0 m.

Most ramps are designed with a maximum grade of 10% but were steepened to 12% for final access to lower portions of the open pits. External roads are designed to allow access to roads connecting the various pits to the crusher and waste dumps and are also planned to be a maximum of 30 m wide.


Crushers and Mills

Jaw crusher 1
Cone crusher 3


The crusher unit operations include a primary jaw crusher, and a secondary screening and crushing system. The crushed ore storage bin, secondary crushing feed bin, and crushed ore stockpile provides crushing surge capacity for the facility. The ore is fed from the screening plant to an overland conveyor to the fine ore stockpile and truck loadout bin.

Primary Crushing
Run-of-mine (ROM) ore is transported to the primary crushing area by haul truck and dumped directly into a dump hopper with 600 t live capacity or to a 540,000 t ROM stockpile which provides surge between mining and crushing operations. A rock breaker will be available to service the crusher dump hopper when there are oversized rocks.

ROM from the dump hopper is removed via an apron feeder and feeds a vibrating grizzly feeder in which oversized material feeds the jaw crusher and undersize material falls to the jaw crusher discharge conveyor.

The primary crusher reduces the ROM ore to a nominal P80 91 mm. Crushed ore drops to the crusher discharge conveyor, joining the grizzly undersize material. The crusher discharge conveyor transfers the crushed ore via the crushed ore stockpile to the crushed ore bin feed conveyor that feeds the crushed ore bin.

Secondary Crushing
The secondary crushing system is a parallel circuit utilizing three cone crushers producing a product material of approximately P85 18 mm. The crushed product combines with the primary crushing circuit project to feed the screening circuit.


  • Carbon re-activation kiln
  • Crush & Screen plant
  • Heap leach
  • Carbon in column (CIC)
  • Carbon adsorption-desorption-recovery (ADR)
  • AARL elution
  • Merrill–Crowe
  • Cyanide (reagent)


The Amulsar processing facility will receive ROM ore by haul trucks at an average LOM nominal rate of 10 Mtpa or 27,400 tpd. Ore is processed through two stages of crushing to a target crush size P94 19 mm. The crusher unit operations include a primary jaw crusher, and a secondary screening and
crushing system. The crushed ore storage bin, secondary crushing feed bin, and crushed ore stockpile provides crushing surge capacity for the facility. The ore is fed from the screening plant to an overland conveyor to the fine ore stockpile and truck loadout bin. From there, crushed ore will be transported via trucks to the leach pad for heap leaching. Pregnant leach solution (PLS) from the heap will be treated in a CIC circuit. Gold will be recovered by an adsorption- desorption-recovery (ADR) circuit where the final product will be doré.

Amulsar processing facility consists of the following unit operations:
- Primary Crushing;
- Screening Facility;
- Secondary Crushing;
- Overland Conveying;
- Crushed Ore Stockpile;
- Heap Leach Facility;
- Carbon-In-Leach;
- Carbon Adsorption, Desorption and Recovery;
- Carbon Handling;
- Refining;
- Reagents;
- Utility Facilities.

The heap leach process consists of stacking crushed ore on the leach pad in lifts and leaching each individual lift to extract the gold and silver. Barren Leach Solution (BLS) containing dilute sodium cyanide will be applied to the ore heap surface using a combination of drip emitters and sprinklers at a design application rate of 6 L/hr/m2. The design leaching cycle of the ore heap is 60 days.

The solution will percolate through the ore to the drainage system above the pad liner, where it will be collected in a network of perforated drain pipes embedded within a 0.6-m minimum thickness granular cover drain fill layer above the liner. The solution will gravity flow to the process pond. PLS collected in the process pond will be pumped to the process plant to extract the gold and silver.

The process plant consists of an Adsorption, Desorption, Recovery (ADR) plant, refining, and reagent makeup and delivery systems. The ADR plant will be located to the southeast of the HLF collection ponds, and the plant area will be lined to contain spills and any overflow from the plant will be routed to the process pond.

The plant extracts precious metals from the PLS onto activated coconut carbon. The ADR circuit adorbs metals from the PLS in carbon columns and moves the carbon from the columns into strip vessel where the metal is eluted into solution at higher tenors. This new PLS is treated with zinc which causes gold and silver to precipitate from solution. Once the precious metals are precipitated, the solution is filtered and the cake is dried, mixed with flux and smelted to produce dore bars. The dore bars are then shipped to a refinery for further refining. The ADR circuit also regenerates the carbon through acid washing and a regeneration kiln to maintain the carbon's ability to adsorb metals in the carbon columns. Once regenerated the carbon is returned as fresh carbon to the carbon columns.

Metals are desorbed from the carbon using the Anglo-American Research Laboratories (AARL) method.

Pregnant solution from the elution column flows through heat exchangers where heat is recovered and used to preheat the incoming elution stream. The eluted solution is collected in the pregnant strip solution tank.

Smelting operations are performed in a secure refinery. Access to the refinery is limited to specific personnel, controlled by electronic and physical barriers, and is actively monitored.

The pregnant strip tank is designed for a capacity of 3 days or 6 elution cycle of pregnant eluate solution. Pregnant strip solution is pumped from the pregnant strip solution tank to the precipitation filters. Zinc powder is added to the solution after the filter feed pump and before the in-line zinc mixer. The precipitation of gold and silver is rapid and will have occurred before the solution reaches the precipitation filter.

The filter cake is collected into retort pans and transferred by cart to the mercury retort area. The mercury retort system is installed to capture any trace mercury that may be present during the life of the mine.

Dry cake removed from the mercury retort is fluxed and smelted into doré bars using a direct fired furnace. Off-gases are captured in a baghouse dust collection system where precious metal dust is captured and returned to the system. The slag produced from smelting is crushed and screened to recover any metal prill that may have become entrained with the slag. This prill is then collected and saved for the next pour. The crushed slag is stored in the slag bin before shipping to off-site smelter. The doré is packaged and stored in a safe for off-site shipment.

Recoveries & Grades:

CommodityParameterAvg. LOM
Gold Recovery Rate, % 87.1
Gold Head Grade, g/t 0.74
Silver Recovery Rate, % 14.6
Silver Head Grade, g/t 3.8


CommodityUnitsAvg. AnnualLOM
Gold koz 2052,496
Silver koz 1752,100
All production numbers are expressed as payable metal.

Operational metrics

Daily ore mining rate 27,400 t *
Daily processing rate 27,400 t *
Daily processing capacity 30,000 t *
Annual processing rate 10 Mt *
Stripping / waste ratio 2 *
Waste tonnes, LOM 243,593 kt *
Ore tonnes mined, LOM 119,303 kt *
Total tonnes mined, LOM 362,895 kt *
* According to 2019 study.

Production Costs

All-in sustaining costs (AISC) Gold USD 744.2 / oz *  
All-in sustaining costs (AISC) Gold USD 730.6 / oz * **  
Assumed price Silver USD 16 / oz *  
Assumed price Gold USD 1,300 / oz *  
* According to 2019 study / presentation.
** Net of By-Product.

Operating Costs

OP mining costs ($/t mined) USD 2.36 *  
OP mining costs ($/t milled) USD 7.11 *  
Processing costs ($/t milled) USD 2.75 *  
Total operating costs ($/t milled) USD 11.3 *  
* According to 2019 study.

Project Costs

MetricsUnitsLOM Total
Pre-Production capital costs $M USD 530.5
Sustaining CapEx $M USD 144
Closure costs $M USD 36.4
Total CapEx $M USD 710.9
OP OpEx $M USD 847.7
Processing OpEx $M USD 328
G&A costs $M USD 166.4
Total OpEx $M USD 1,342
Royalty payments $M USD 304
Pre-tax Cash Flow (LOM) $M USD 893.4
After-tax Cash Flow (LOM) $M USD 703.7
Pre-tax NPV @ 5% $M USD 503.9
Pre-tax NPV @ 10% $M USD 253
After-tax NPV @ 5% $M USD 362.6
After-tax NPV @ 10% $M USD 144
Pre-tax IRR, % 18.4
After-tax IRR, % 14.9
Pre-tax payback period, years 4.2

Heavy Mobile Equipment

Ref. Date: October 15, 2019

HME TypeModelSizeQuantityStatus
Dozer (crawler) Caterpillar D9 436 HP 1 Required
Dozer (crawler) Caterpillar D10 600 HP 3 Required
Dozer (rubber tire) Caterpillar 834K 4.6 m 2 Required
Excavator 1 Required
Grader Caterpillar 16M 4.9 m 1 Required
Grader Caterpillar 24M 7.3 m 2 Required
Loader Caterpillar 994 K 21 m3 1 Existing
Loader Caterpillar 992K 11.5 m3 1 Required
Shovel Caterpillar 6040 22 m3 1 Existing
Shovel Caterpillar 6040 22 m3 1 Required
Truck (haul) Caterpillar 789D 181 t 14 Required
Truck (haul) Caterpillar 789D 181 t 9 Existing
Truck (water) 2 Required


Mine Management

Job TitleNameProfileRef. Date
Consultant - Infrastructure Richard Boehnke LinkedIn Oct 15, 2019
Consultant - Mining Tysen Hantelmann LinkedIn Oct 15, 2019
Consultant - Recovery Methods Kelly McLeod LinkedIn Oct 15, 2019
Managing Director Hayk Aloyan LinkedIn Jan 19, 2024

347 2019


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