Chrome Recovery plantAmplats commissions quick-return chrome plant

JOHANNESBURG ( — A new chrome recovery plant has been commissioned at Anglo American Platinum’s (Amplats’) Amandelbult mine in Limpopo province.

The chrome plant, which cost R400-million, should generate additional free cash flow at current prices of between R350-million and R400-million a year. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).

Built on schedule and within budget, the plant should reach steady state production by June 2017.

“This is an example of the value we’re creating from our disciplined capital allocation,” says Amplats CEO Chris Griffith.

The company is continuing to advance low capital expenditure (capex), fast payback projects that release value from existing assets and from the full metal stream, which, in Amandelbult’s case, includes chrome.

According to the scoping study, the project was motivated by the suboptimal dumping of chrome-containing upper group two (UG2) tailings.

Amplats has a number of what it describes as “high value growth projects” in the bottom half of the industry cost curve.

Two others that have received “value accretive project capital” this year, in addition to the Amandelbult chrome plant, are the Modikwa UG2 project on the eastern limb of the Bushveld Complex and the Bathopele Phase 5 project, a UG2 project on the western limb of the Bushveld Complex.

However, given current market conditions, most project capital decisions are being delayed until after 2017 — and then only if the market demands the metal and the Amplats balance sheet can accommodate the project.

“We are able to maintain our production profile through 202o without any major ore replacement expenditure,” says Amplats CFO Ian Botha. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video). Capex guidance for 2016 has been slightly reduced to between R3.5-billion and R4-billion from between R3.7-billion and R4.2-billion.




 Inland terminal rapid rail master plans urged for new coal basins

Logiman associate director technology Lyonell Fliss tells Mining Weekly Online’s Martin Creamer that coal processing and transportation needs to be modernised with the introduction of an inland terminal and rapid railing. Video and Video Editing: Darlene Creamer.

JOHANNESBURG ( – A new logistical concept involving the overland conveying of coal to inland terminals for processing prior to rapid railing to ocean terminals is being proposed for new coal basins, to boost efficiencies, cut costs, ensure economically feasible junior-miner participation and bring bulk-commodity management into the twenty-first century.

The basic idea of the new concept, being put forward by project house Logiman of Sandton, is to facilitate the continuous flow of coal from mines to ocean terminals, free of all intermediate time-absorbing interruptions, including those at rail spurs and marshalling yards.

The concept involves building coal-processing infrastructure at inland terminals so that individual mines are relieved of the need to invest in their own coal-processing facilities. Its introduction is not expected to cost more than current expenditure on individual systems and is likely to bolster junior-miner involvement. Overland conveyors are strongly favoured as the transporters of coal to inland terminals, where it is envisaged that state-of-the-art equipment will prepare the coal for rapid loading on to a rail shuttle. “I would like to combine all the processes, from the coal face to the ocean,” says Lyonell Fliss, the associate director technology of Logiman, where he is involved with the development of new industrial concepts. His proposal, which is best suited to new coal basins where it would be implemented in accordance with a master plan, is designed to eliminate processing and transportation bottlenecks. Advocated for Southern Africa is the drawing up of a master plan that would view South Africa’s emerging Waterberg coalfield and the large adjoining Botswana coalfield as one big whole, on the basis that the Waterberg really represents only the tip of a far larger regional coal basin that extends into Botswana, with similar approaches adopted in Mozambique. The concept hinges on attaining master plan buy-in by all parties as the starting point. “In this master plan, we have to eliminate stumbling blocks in the conventional systems and reduce the double handling of coal at individual mines and collection points,” Fliss tells Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online in the attached video interview, that can be viewed by clicking on the arrow in the picture accompanying this article. Inland terminals and ocean terminals will need to match one another’s performances. Currently, coal exportation from South Africa is based on State-owned Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) working in a fully integrated supply chain with the private-sector-owned Richards Bay Coal Terminal (RBCT), which exported a record 71.3-million tonnes of coal in 2014 and which is targeting 74-million tonnes for 2015 – still well below its export capacity of 91-million tonnes a year. RBCT is owned by the 16 big and small coal mining companies that use it. TFR, which last year railed in a record 72.4-million tonnes from coal mines up to 850 km away from the 519-employee RBCT, offloaded at a rate of 5 500 t an hour and emptied 100-wagon trains in less than two hours. In 2014, an average of 27 trains a day – based on a 100-wagon yardstick, although they arrive in 200-wagon batches – called at the terminal with the coal going to 41 countries, 67% in Asia, 25% in Europe and 6.5% in Africa. Some 50 km of 2.2-m-wide belt conveyors move at a rate of up to 22 km an hour to transport most of the coal directly to 92 individual stock areas, where yard machines stockpile the coal at a rate of up to 6 000 t an hour. Coal is reclaimed from the stockpiles into four silos and then discharged on to ships by shiploaders, one of which is able to load at a rate of 12 000 t an hour, a second at 10 000 t an hour and two at up to 8 500 t an hour. The centralised control system is in a 42-m-high control tower, from which stockyard machines are coordinated. Preliminary research work has been done on a Phase 6 expansion of RBCT, which would increase the capacity of the terminal by 19-million tons a year to 110-million tons a year.

On the issue of facilitation of juniors, Transnet GM commercial Divyesh Kalan reported earlier this year that junior coal mining companies at times presented challenges in not always meeting their export allocations under the Quattro scheme, which provides four-million tonnes export allocation to juniors a year.

Kalan also told the IHS Energy South African Coal Exports Conference 2015, attended by Mining Weekly Online, that the State-owned enterprise’s biggest challenge in the expansion of the coal line capacity to 91-million tons, was obtaining additional power on the line from the supply-constrained State electricity utility, Eskom.



Engineering company innovates to save money and time

Multidisciplinary engineering company LogiMan has successfully completed its work on the Tschudi copper project, in Namibia, ahead of schedule and within budget.

LogiMan was the key engineering contractor for the project, which is the company’s largest standalone project to date.

The project achieved its first copper production on February 16, ahead of the April 22 deadline stipulated in the initial contractual agreement between LogiMan and miner Weatherly International.

All minor punch-listing items were also completed by April, LogiMan chairperson Sharadh Padayachi says. He tells Mining Weekly that, with the introduction of previously underused technologies, LogiMan delivered on the project using only R643-million, or 60%, of the initial projected budget of R1.2-billion.

“The choice selection of equipment was a particularly effective way of cutting costs,” he says. The various components that LogiMan engineered for the Tschudi project include the electrowinning plant; the solvent extraction, control and electrical systems; the bulk earthworks; building infrastructure; the heap leach plant; and all civil and structural components.

LogiMan’s contract started in November 2013, and the company managed to complete the project within 14 months, despite several challenges, including a six-week steel industry strike, a two-week transportation strike, 44 days of lost production because of a rain delay and a four-week travel embargo for abnormal loads over the Christmas period.

“A clear understanding of our scope and constructability, strong commitment from the team and a healthy relationship with our client’s project manager, Jerry Burger, has made the timeous completion of the project possible,” says Padayachi. LogiMan project director Eddie Ennis, construction and commissioning director Vincent Reiche and Padayachi headed the project and they were supported by LogiMan construction manager and associate director Anthony Jamieson.

Tschudi Copper Project Located about 20 km west of the town of Tsumeb, Tschudi is a greenfield heap-leach copper project, which will produce 99.99% pure copper cathodes on site. The openpit, low-cost mine extracts oxidised copper ore from the sub-Saharan Copperbelt, which is then treated using solvent extraction, heap-leach and electrowinning processes. It is believed that the mine has the potential to produce 17 000 t/y of copper. Tschudi provides about 500 jobs for the local community; Weatherly estimates that the newly established copper mine could create up to several thousand indirect jobs in the years to come. Padayachi says Weatherly International set a high standard for LogiMan. “Our client wanted a proven process to eliminate the technical risk of the project; however, we are always prepared to consider design and construction methods in new ways to achieve efficiency.” In addition to Tschudi, Weatherly International owns the Otjihase and Matchless copper mines in the Oshikoto region, near Windhoek.