Exceptionally good working relationship with Kyrgyz govt – Fraser

Chaarat Gold CEO Mike Fraser interviewed by Mining Weekly’s Martin Creamer. Video: Darlene Creamer.

14th February 2022

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( –  The London Aim-quoted Chaarat Gold has an exceptionally good working relationship with the government of the Kyrgyz Republic, says CEO Mike Fraser, who is well known in South Africa as the former COO of South32.

Chaarat is developing two gold projects in the Kyrgyz Republic. The first is Tulkubash, a near-term opencast heap leach project, and the second is Kyzyltash, a potentially larger, higher-grade and longer-term underground project. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

Chaarat, which operates the Kapan mine in Armenia, has close to ten-million ounces of Joint Ore Reserve Committee-compliant resources. With significant mill capacity, Kapan also processes third-party ore.

Chaarat plans to increase its production of around 60 000 oz gold equivalent a year to around 450 000 oz gold equivalent a year within five years, dependent on the development of Tulkubash and Kyzyltash.

Fraser describes the Kyrgyz region as being very prospective: "It has not been well developed and has been very decentralised in terms of the development of projects in this region. We have a very good management team, which is able to operate in these regions, and so I'm quite excited about the possibility with Chaarat, to take it further on its development journey,” says Fraser, who spoke to Mining Weekly in a Zoom interview.

Last year, Kapan exceeded its production guidance. With the support of prices, it had a 20% increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.

Cost pressures are coming through, but also support from fairly strong and stable commodity prices, "which is going to help us to have another good year this year", says Fraser.


When Tulkubash’s bankable feasibility study was put out in May last year, the plan was to kickstart the project in January but this coincided with the Kyrgyz government taking control of the Kumtor mine from Centerra Resources, a Canada-based company.

“That created quite a lot of anxiety, as you can appreciate, amongst the multilaterals, as well as individual financiers, and put our project a little bit back.

“But we know that is very close to resolution. You will have seen Centerra put out an announcement a few weeks back and last week, Thursday, the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic came out and said that a resolution was imminent,” Fraser points out.

Feedback from multilaterals and private investors is that they will be willing to participate once the Centerra issue is settled.

Early works have commenced at Tulkubash, which are scheduled to be accelerated as soon as financing is in place.

At this stage, Tulkubash’s first gold is anticipated in 2024, at around 95 000 oz equivalent, which will be added to Chaarat’s production profile at that point.


There are several key catalysts for Chaarat. First and foremost, it has to continue to run Kapan for value. Second is project financing for Tulkubash, and third is the completion of the feasibility study for Kyzyltash, the group’s potential long-life anchor.

“Then, we will continue to look at opportunities in the M&A space to see where there are opportunities to grow, potentially through mergers or acquisitions. But again, that's not something you necessarily plan for,” Fraser adds, against the background of Chaarat’s belief that the gold industry is ripe for further consolidation down the value chain.

But in the main, the company will “focus on the things that matter to us, that are in our control, and we believe those will be significantly value-adding and accretive for our shareholders,” Fraser emphasises.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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