The Chemours Company, a global chemistry company with leading market positions in Titanium Technologies, Thermal & Specialized Solutions, Advanced Performance Materials, and Chemical Solutions, recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new $93 million titanium and zircon mineral sands mining facility on land leased from Camp Blanding in Clay County, Florida. The new mine is Trail Ridge South, an expansion of its existing Trail Ridge operation.
The project will use mining technology that minimises environmental impact and was recently deployed at the company’s Jesup, Georgia mining site. The new facility will incorporate Mobile Mining Units (MMUs), allowing for reduced dependency on traditional dredge or truck and shovel mining processes. The MMUs allow the site to have much lower emissions, reduced dust levels, and lower safety risk versus using traditional haul trucks. In addition, the Trail Ridge South mining operations will recycle 98% of the water used in the mineral transport and separation processes – providing sustainable solutions while still meeting Chemours’ commitment to process minerals.
A high-performance solution, the MMUs for both Jesup and Trail Ridge South have been designed by Carrara, Queensland, Australia headquartered Downer company Mineral Technologies (MT). MT told IM earlier this year that they are aimed at mining sites where traditional dredging is not an option, or not cost effective. The technology delivers improvements in availability, orebody yields, throughput and overall mineral recovery. Suited to sand environments that include organics such as tree roots, light clay and soft or friable rock, MMUs can reduce operating costs by also eliminating the need for conventional truck and shovel mining. MT said the Chemours MMUs are extracting difficult to reach mineral sand deposits where traditional mining methods didn’t stack up as the best business case. The MMUs provide a far safer and substantially reduced cost per tonne solution compared to other options.
“We view our mining projects as an opportunity to showcase our ability to extract essential minerals with an environmentally conscious approach that protects the planet and local wildlife – consistent with our company’s commitment to sustainability,” said Stuart Forrester, Director of Minerals Operations for Chemours.
MT says the MMU has a 750 t/h nominal operation with peak at 900 t/h. It offers complete remote control via a tablet device eliminating the need for on-board personnel. Dozers push ROM ore to the unit where a hopper is loaded via hydraulic excavator, with the material then crushed to a suitable size for pumping of slurried ore to downstream processes.
Expansion of its mining operations will allow Chemours to have additional access to high-quality concentrated deposits of titanium and zircon mineral sands used to produce its Ti-Pure™ brand of titanium dioxide (TiO₂). Minerals mined by Chemours contain the elements titanium and zirconium, which are included in the US Department of the Interior’s 2018 list of critical minerals as they are vital to the nation’s security and economic prosperity. These critical minerals are produced in limited quantities domestically. Clay County and the surrounding region are a key domestic source of these critical minerals.
“The new funding for the mining operations expansion at Trail Ridge South in Florida’s Third Congressional District will allow us to remain leaders in producing high-quality manufacturing components. Not only is this expansion a boon for economic development in the region, but the minerals mined here are vital to our national security and domestic production capabilities,” said Congresswoman Kat Cammack (FL-03). “The Chemours team is also working hard to ensure this process is environmentally sustainable, restoring land back to its productive mining use, which ensures a safe, healthy, clean Florida for generations to come.”
Chemours’ mining expansion on Trail Ridge South in Starke, Florida, will create 50-75 new positions, with at or above average wages for Bradford and Clay Counties. Construction will begin in July 2021, with an anticipated start-up by the fourth quarter, 2022. State Representative Bobby Payne of District 19 said the economic impact was significant. “I am looking forward to the positive impact that will be seen in not only Clay and Bradford Counties, but in Baker and Duval as well.”