The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and UniCredit Group have signed a loan agreement worth US$260mn with Kazakhstan’s Voskhod Chromium, a subsidiary of Turkey’s Yildrim Group.

The financing facility will be equally split between the two banks in an A/B loan in which EBRD represents the lender of record. To date, the bank has invested over US$7bn in various sectors in the country, but this “is the EBRD’s first transaction in the chromium sector,” says EBRD managing director for energy and natural resources, Riccardo Puliti.

The financing will be used by Yildrim Group to restructure the Voskhod mine, bought in December 2013 from Russia’s Mechel for US$425mn. Yildrim plans to improve the mine’s efficiency and competitiveness while reinforcing the overall environmental and operational health and safety standards.

The plan also includes the acquisition of new mining equipment, the expansion of facilities and intense underground mine development works. According to the EBRD press statement, Yuksel Yildirim, President and CEO of Yildirim Group, expects the transaction to “pave the way for our growth plans in Kazakhstan.

The Voskhod mine is located in the western Kazakh district of Khromtau, which means “chrome mountain” in Kazakh. It is estimated to have total reserves of about 21 million tonnes of chrome ore.