The as-yet unmined region of Sukhoi Log, Irkutsk, Siberia. Photo courtesy of Polyus.

Polyus PJSC, the largest producer of gold in Russia, has announced that a recently acquired mining sites has a provable 40 million ounces of gold reserves waiting to be mined, officially making it the largest gold reserve in the world and making the company the second-largest gold producer in the world.

An audit of the Sukhoi Log site in Irkutsk, Siberia, found that there are 540 million tonnes of ore, of which 40 million ounces is proven gold reserves – as per the Australasian 'Joint Ore Reserves Committee (JORC)' standards. The audit determined that the average gold content of the site is 2.3 grams per tonne.

In a press statement, Polyus' Chief Executive, Pavel Grachev, said: “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”.

The site holds more than a quarter of all of Russia's gold reserves. It was initially discovered by the Soviet Union in 1961 and mining had been proposed during the 1970s, but no action was taken. In 2017 a joint bid from Polyus and Rostec – a Russian state defence group – saw the site sold and more recently Polyus also acquired Rostec for $128.2 million, giving it the remaining 22% stake and thus full control of the Sukhoi Log site.

Mining operations at Sukhoi Log. Photo courtesy of Polyus.

Production is being estimated at 1.6 million ounces once the mining operation is up and running in Sukhoi Log, with early estimates that the operation will cost around $2.5 billion to run. While this is a heavy investment for the firm, internal forecasting is predicting up to 70% increase in annual gold production for Polyus.