The gold mining company, which was previously owned by Buryatzoloto (a subsidiary of Nordgold) and allegedly ran out of gold, has again actively started production.
There are suspicions that the previous owner very carefully planned the rebirth of the mine under a false and very dubious name.
Zun-Kholba LLC, which is developing the Zun-Kholbinskoye deposit (Okinsky district of Buryatia), spoke about successful gold mining in 2021. So, last year, the company’s gold productivity reached 10.7 ounces (333 kilograms), which exceeded the figures for 2020 by 42%. The company’s revenue amounted to 1.34 billion rubles, of which 124 million went to taxes. This is reported on the official website of the company.
According to the general director of Zun-Kholb, Sergei Garmaev, in the near future there will be even more precious metal after the discovery of new reserves with a high gold content. In 2022, the company plans to increase metal production at the mine to 600 kilograms, and then to one ton.
Less than a year ago, the Kholbinsky mine was purchased from Buryatzoloto. At that moment, he was preparing for conservation, the deposit was considered inefficient due to the low gold content in the ore. However, the mine has a future,” says Sergey Garmaev.
Recall that PJSC Buryatzoloto (Nordgold) sold its gold mine to a little-known Cypriot company Chesio Limited. At the same time, there is no information about the buyer or the details of the upcoming Buryatzoloto deal. It is only known that Chesio Limited was registered on December 17, 2019 in Cyprus.
The root cause of the deal was the alleged reduction in gold reserves and unprofitable production. However, something in this story does not add up, since earlier Buryatzoloto kept the Zun-Kholbinskoye deposit by discovering large reserves of gold. It happened in 2018. Then the productivity of the metal sharply reached more than one and a half tons per quarter, which is almost ten times higher than the previous production. True, already at that time the company predicted: the reserves would be enough for two or three years at the most.
And so it happened – in 2021, the gold reserves in the mine decreased to a critical minimum. But is Buryatzoloto really unable to probe the hidden reserves for the second time, on which now the dubious Cypriot company will earn billions? Most likely, the company still knew about the reserves, but did not officially announce them. There were reasons for this.
Initially, the sale of the Zun-Kholba mine to an unknown offshore company was seen by many as a good option for Buryatzoloto to avoid a claim for serious environmental damage caused over the years of operation and not spend money on its liquidation. Analysts then even predicted that in the foreseeable future a similar fate awaits the Irokinda underground mine, located in the Muisky district and also owned by Buryatzoloto.
In addition, the owner of Nordgold, Alexey Mordashov, has long been famous for his greed, as he is not used to sharing taxes at all. And in 2019, the authorities of the company generally justified the next reduction in tax payments with some kind of “investment costs”, which can mean anything. Therefore, we can safely assume that the company evades taxes, and Buryatia does not get anything from gold mining.