Tajik-Chinese Joint Venture (JV) Zarafshon (formerly Zervashan Gold Company), which is the largest gold mining company in Tajikistan, has resumed operations.

“The government yesterday issued a decree, under which the company has resumed operations,” Nusratullo Davlatzoda, the head of the Tax Committee under the Government of Tajikistan, told reports in Dushanbe on February 7. 

According to him, he has recently met with the company top managers to discuss its further operations.

“The company has temporarily suspended operations due to the expiration of the term of its operating license.  Besides, JV Zarafshon has failed to fulfill some of its obligations,” Davlatzoda added.   

Recall, Bakhtiyor Sharipov, an official with the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies, told Asia-Plus last month that they are currently considering the issue of extending the license for development of four deposits – Tarror, Jilau, Khirskhona and Olimpyskoye. 

Zeravshan Gold Company (ZGC) was launched as a joint venture with Nelson Resources Ltd (44%) and the Tajikistan government (51%) and the IFC (5%) in 1994.  In September 2002, Avocet signed a heads of agreement to acquire the Tajik gold assets of Toronto-based Nelson Resources Ltd held through Nelson’s subsidiary, Commonwealth and British Minerals Ltd.  The assets included a 44% interest in ZGC.  In November 2004, Avocet increased its equity interest in ZGC from 49% to 75%.  In late July 2007, Avocet sold its equity stake in ZGC to China’s Zijin Mining.

JV Zarafshon owns gold mining and exploration rights to a 300,000-hectare area near the town of Panjakent in northern Tajikistan.

Tajikistan has 137 deposits with estimated reserves of industrial gold and 127 deposits of non-industrial gold.  Tajikistan plans to increase annual production of gold to 17 tons beginning on 2022.

Four large gold mining companies now operate in Tajikistan: Tilloi Tojik; Tajik-Chinese JV Zarafshon; Tajik-Canadian JV Aprelevka; and China Nonferrous Gold Limited, which is the first foreign company to obtain 100% ownership of a mining and exploration project in Tajikistan.  Besides, enterprises such as Odina, Nazira, Ganj, Barakat and Istiqlol are engaged in gold production in the country.

Most of gold comes from the Jilau deposit operated by Tajik-Chinese joint venture, Zarafshon, which reportedly accounts for more than 70 percent of the total amount of gold produced in Tajikistan.