Eldorado Gold Corporation is a 750,000 ounce gold producer with mining, development and exploration operations in Turkey, China, Greece, Romania and Brazil. The Canadian-based company owns and operates seven mines and is developing six projects.
The Company’s success to date is based on a low cost strategy, a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, safe and responsible operations, and long-term partnerships with the communities where they operate. It’s a disciplined approach that makes for a pragmatic culture; a culture that is honest, forthright and preservers to find solutions. It’s an approach that is shared across Eldorado Gold’s diverse global operations.
This ethos has seen Eldorado double production, increase its resources and reserves, and maintain cash operating costs in the lowest quartile of the global cost curve over the past five years. Eldorado’s pipeline of of high-quality, long-lived projects has the potential to make the Company a 1.5 million ounce gold producer. Eldorado Gold is now working to develop its assets, particularly those in Greece, that will become a major component to its capital growth.
Assets in place
Eldorado Gold’s success is exemplified by its two Turkish mining assets – the Kisladag and Efemcukuru gold mines. Although the country hasn’t traditionally been a top location for mining investment, Eldorado saw Turkey’s potential.
“We elected to go into jurisdictions that aren’t typically viewed as mainstream countries for gold mining,” says Eldorado Gold CEO Paul Wright. “Greece and Turkey have a long history, an ancient history, of gold mining and are very prospective. That’s our target.”
“Turkey has been incredibly successful for us,” says Wright. “It’s a very good country to operate in because you have a rule of law, strong work ethic, and a healthy degree of pragmatism. Plus, there’s a rich mining tradition.”
The company’s most successful gold mine to date is the Kisladag project in Turkey. As the first open-pit heap leach mine in Europe, the mine produces over 300,000 ounces of gold per year, and is the largest gold producing mine in the country.
“It’s been a very successful, predictable, low cost operation for us. It’s the cornerstone of the company,” says Wright.
The mine, which began production in 2006, was first discovered by Eldorado using traditional grass roots techniques including satellite imagery followed up by geochemical sampling, drilling and then various stages of engineering, permitting and construction.
Wright adds, “We’re currently going through an expansion so we’ll be looking at increasing annual production from 12.5 million tons to 20 million tons. The expansion will bring the mine life to 16 years.” Eldorado is looking to add a parallel crushing circuit and expanding the ADR plant to provide for the additional capacity.
Located in Western Turkey, the Efemcukuru mine is a high grade, underground gold operation. While one of the smaller mines for Eldorado, the project is currently processing over 400,000 tons per year.
“It’s an impressive operation not only because of the ore body and the operating performance, but also because the project is only 30 kilometers away from a city of 3 million people,” says Wright. “We put an immense amount of effort and resources to build an operation in a manner that is as low impact as possible,” says Wright.
Eldorado consulted extensively with local communities on mine design and process flowsheet.
“We made various investment decisions that you normally wouldn’t see with a mine this size. It was designed to reduce visual and environmental impacts, including moving crushers underground. It’s nicely tucked away in the hillsides.”
Developing future assets
Along with its Turkish mines, Eldorado Gold is developing additional long-lived assets.
According to Wright, the company has projects in place that will provide major growth capital for years to come.
“We’ve been very deliberate in building a company through exploration and careful acquisition. We’re building a portfolio of extremely high quality, long-lived assets.”
The company is currently focused on the development of two projects in Greece: Olympias and Skouries.
“The Olympias mine was a pre-existing polymetallic mine producing silver, lead, zinc and gold,” says Wright. “We’re currently developing it in three phases.”
The first phase is a rehabilitation project, where Eldorado is cleaning up 2.4 million tons of pre-existing surface tailings.
“We’re half way through the cleanup where we are treating the tailings by running them through a refurbished processing plant” says Wright.
The second phase will include the reactivation of the mine.
“We’re in the process of rehabilitating and redeveloping the underground mine and we’ll be looking at processing ore through the existing, refurbished mill using a flotation process to produce three concentrates: lead-silver, zinc and gold-bearing pyrite-arsenopyrite” says Wright. “We’re looking at an initial run rate of approximately 400,000 tons per year from the underground mine.”
The third and final stage will be doubling the throughput of the underground mine, including a new plant facility, which will be roughly eight kilometers from the mine.
“We’re in the process of driving an 8 kilometer tunnel to connect the new plant location with the bottom of the underground mine,” says Wright. “That tunnel is currently 1.6 kilometers complete.”
Wright adds, “Although this is a number of years out, you’ll see us removing all of the infrastructure around the Olympias mine site, reclaiming almost all areas, including dismantling the current processing plant.”
Another exciting project for Eldorado Gold is its Skouries asset in northern Greece. The high-grade gold-copper porphyry deposit will operate in two phases with the initial phase consisting of a small, open pit mine. The production of the mine, which is expected to commence in late 2016, will be roughly 8 million tons per year.
“The project will be followed by 20 plus years at 4 million tons per year with the underground aspect” says Wright. “We’re in full construction now,”
The mine will also include a simple metallurgical process that will produce a clean copper-gold concentrate via flotation as well as doré form a gravity circuit.
Eldorado has built a strong track record as a responsible producer that delivers on its commitments. Operating with integrity is one of Eldorado’s top priorities and it implements world-class technical, environmental and safety practices at all its assets. The Company recognizes that its success is contingent on building and maintaining long-lasting relationships with its stakeholders.
“Around the world communities continue to be resistant to mining projects and developments. Based on our experiences, we’ve learnt to be open and transparent and engaged in the society from the moment you’ve stepped foot in their community. From the very beginning, companies need to develop rapport and trust that responsible mining can be beneficial to society.”
“You have to take a holistic view, recognize your impacts and develop ways to manage and mitigate these from project inception through to reclamation, closure and life after,” says Wright. “There’s no point in hiding from that reality. Most people expect you to be open and have dialogue.”
For Eldorado, integrity means being honest, straightforward and accountable. This is achieved through transparent practices such as conducting local mine tours or having community groups test the operations themselves for environmental compliance.
“We spent a lot of time in teahouses in Turkey answering all types of questions about our operations. Without a doubt, it was this engagement that was fundamental to our success in the country”.