Welcome to the Akmola region, Kazakhstan. This is the place where gold is mined and the history of the mine is a reflection of the history of the country. It has undergone many stagnant periods, downfalls but has finally revived and is thriving.
About 33 years ago, this area only had a small pit but over the course of 3 decades, it has transformed into a mine that is 135 meters deep and about 1210 thousand square meters wide. Back in the 90s, there was also a time period during which mining stopped completely because the gold prices had fallen to a very low level – 260 dollars per ounce. People had to wait for months before work resumed in 2000s. The revival of the production required 700 million dollars and this amount was managed after a long wait. The mining crew has managed to mine about 11.5 tons of gold in last two years, equivalent to the total amount mined in the last 20 years.
Previously the process of gold mining was quite different than the current practice. The ore used to be irrigated with a solution made of sodium cyanide and extracted from rock. However, this method proved effective only for the oxidized ore, the amount of which begin to decrease gradually. This led to the need for coming up with better means and technology for gold mining. The current strategy involves blasting of rock and extracting fold in a rather sophisticated manner.
The deposit is, first of all, measured by observing strict technological regime. The geologists then ascertain the presence of ore that bears gold. After the go-ahead from the geologists, the drillers begin their work. Small pits of 16 meters are drilled and then blasted. The explosion takes place twice a week. After the explosion, the excavators are used for bucketing the ore and loading it on trucks that take the ore for crushing. The ore is crushed to the size of 350mm and then taken to roll-presses where it is transformed into ball mills.
A special factory was built back in 2007 for the gold extraction. When the factory is operating at its full capacity, it can churn out 15 tons of gold per year. Kazakhstan manufactures about 20 tonnes of gold per year! The flotation machine is used for carrying out the separation of gold from other non-ferrous metals by making use of gravity. The end product resembles mud but make no mistake, it is the most expensive mud in the world.
This mud is then refined to form gold bars. Pretty cool, isn’t it?