Tag Archives: DRC

Repair, Reuse, Recycle: ERG’s critical minerals reprocessing journey

The Musonoi River Valley in the Katanga region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has, for some decades, been the site of land degradation resulting from inadequate and ineffective tailings and other waste management systems.

The local water system and surrounding land has been subjected to pollution from more than 83.2 Mt of legacy tailings spread over an area 11-km long and up to 2.5-km wide. Additionally, 41.1 Mt of tailings have accumulated at the Kingamyambo Tailings Dam.

Remediating and mitigating this damage is now a primary goal of Eurasian Resources Group’s Metalkol Roan Tailings Reclamation (RTR), a reprocessing facility dedicated to cleaning up the historic tailings left by previous mining operators in the Kolwezi area of the DRC. By reclaiming and reprocessing copper and cobalt tailings in the region, the company says its approach goes beyond ‘do no harm’, actively addressing a history of environmental degradation and pollution.

The legacy tailings are extracted through hydraulic mining and dredging, reprocessed and then re-deposited into a modern, closely managed and centralised tailings storage facility. This is subject to regular inspection, monitoring and reporting, supported by a dedicated Engineer of Record and an independent laboratory. Currently Metalkol RTR can produce 21,000 t/y of cobalt, which is says is sufficient for three million electric vehicle batteries, alongside around 100,000 t/y of copper, the company says.

ERG also has reprocessing operations outside of Africa, including at Kazchrome in Kazakhstan, which, it says, is the world’s largest high-carbon ferrochrome producer by chrome content.

Established in 2019, ERG Recycling – ERG’s specialised company aiming to become the largest entity to reprocess industrial waste into commercial products in Kazakhstan – has already implemented many projects including the commissioning of a new workshop that reprocesses slag, dust and other fine waste into high-quality briquettes. This program to reprocess Kazchrome’s 14.7 Mt of slag stockpiles has been expanded, now processing over 100,000 t/y of slag.

These operations have been enhanced by the development of new technology. Having completed the first trial in 2020, the Slimes 2 Tailings Reprocessing project at Donskoy GOK has the potential to enhance Kazchrome’s output of chrome concentrate by recovering 55% of the chromium oxide in chrome-oxide bearing tailings using innovative flotation technology, the company says.

In Brazil, at ERG’s integrated project, BAMIN, which produces a premium 67% Fe grade iron ore and is ramping up to become one of the country’s largest standalone iron ore exporters, the company’s transition from an upstream to a downstream tailings model ensured continued compliance with both local regulations and international standards, it said. The group continues to study additional technological enhancements to ensure the construction and operation of a world-class facility.

The environmental benefits of reprocessing projects like these are very significant for the business and critical to local communities, according to the company.

“As more attention rightly turns towards environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, it is crucial that tailings are dealt with and stored properly,” ERG said. “Aside from preventing significant issues, such as dam collapses, by reprocessing and responsibly storing these tailings, we are reducing local pollution risks more generally, increasing air quality and decreasing the likelihood of leaching toxic substances into surrounding habitats and water systems.”

Given the legacy of environmental degradation and serious consequences it poses, it is also necessary for mining companies to explore novel ways of rehabilitating the environment.

For example, ERG has been working with a team of agronomists from the University of Lubumbashi in the DRC to look into the experimental planting of trees and their growing potential at the Kingamyambo tailings dam.

Looking forward, these operations will support the sustainable development of affordable batteries and other clean energy technologies.

By producing critical raw materials, such as cobalt, without the risk and cost of needing to develop new mining projects, ERG says it can help make electric vehicles and other renewable technologies more accessible, helping facilitating the net-zero transition.

Pictured above is Metalkol RTR, ERG’s reprocessing facility in the DRC: the world’s second largest standalone cobalt producer

Zest WEG motors, VSDs help drive Kamoa-Kakula to reaching copper production goals

Zest WEG says it is supplying an extensive range of motors and variable speed drives (VSDs) for the second phase of the Kamoa-Kakula project, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Phase one of the project produced its first copper concentrate on May 25, 2021, and is expected to produce 200,000 t/y of copper in concentrate, according to Ivanhoe Mines, which owns 39.6% of the project, along with Zijin Mining Group (also 39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%).

Phase 2, now in the advanced stages of construction, will result in a doubling of production capacity. Future phased expansions could eventually see a mining rate set to process 19 Mt/y.

For the first phase of the project, Zest WEG was the key supplier for this electrical equipment.

According to Joe Martins, Mining Sector Specialist for Zest WEG, the mine’s scope of supply for the second phase is a repeat of the first. The first phase was supplied in 2020 with WEG medium voltage VSDs and WEG high voltage motors to drive the mine’s primary and secondary mills in the concentrator plant.

“We began to manufacture these long-lead time items in 2019, and delivered two medium voltage VSDs and two 3.3 kV motors for the mine’s 7,000 kW primary ball mill and its 7,000 kW secondary mill,” Martins said. “Our high voltage motors and medium voltage VSDs were also selected to drive the two 1,200 kW high pressure grinding rolls in the plant.”

WEG high voltage motors and automation solutions drive the underground ventilation fan applications, providing fresh air to the underground mine workings, he added.

All these large items are designed to specification, manufactured and tested in WEG’s Brazil facilities.

Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the factory acceptance tests were conducted virtually, with special processes being developed to allow thorough inspection and comment online. The testing of the equipment for phase two – also conducted in a virtual environment – was completed in the September quarter of 2021.

Kamoa-Kakula is expected to become one of the world’s lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced, and Zest WEG’s energy efficient motors and automation solutions will contribute to this, the company said.

The first phase order included over 700 WEG low voltage IE3 premium efficiency motors, supplied to various local and international original equipment manufacturers, and installed throughout the concentrator plant. These motors drive equipment such as the rock breakers, conveyor drives, flotation cells, thickeners, slurry pumps, winches and other mechanical OEM packages.

Where processes within the plant required variable speed control, WEG low voltage VSDs were selected to provide the speed and control necessary for this equipment. Martins explains that, by selecting WEG low voltage VSDs in combination with WEG low voltage motors, Kamoa-Kakula will benefit from a 36-month warranty period.

“An important part of the energy efficiency strategy was for the plant to standardise on our IE3 premium efficiency motors – rated according to the IEC 60034-30 international standard,” he said. “With a class-leading energy efficiency rating, this means reduced carbon emissions and greatly reduced operational energy costs.”

Additionally, Zest WEG is supplying the Kamoa-Kakula project with a new 20 MVA, 33 kV/11 kV mobile substation, which is currently being manufactured in South Africa. The substation will provide stepped down power, and can be moved to supply power to different areas within Kamoa-Kakula’s mining footprint.

“Underpinning the performance of our equipment at the mine will be high levels of service and support from Panaco who is our Value Added Reseller in the DRC,” Martins said.

Kamoa-Kakula underground mine looks like having a battery-electric future

The future replacement mining fleet at the Kamoa-Kakula underground copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo will likely feature battery-electric vehicles – that was the statement from Pierre Joubert, Executive Vice President – Technical Services, Ivanhoe Mines, at the Energy and Mines Virtual World Congress today.

In his presentation, ‘Decarbonising Fleets: The Road to Net-Zero Operational Emissions’, Joubert outlined how the mine, which is set to produce over 400,000 t/y of copper from the complex next year after completion of the Stage 2 project, was planning to move to a zero-emission footprint. The mine, earlier, this month, announced a daily production record of 729 t of copper, with some 63,000 t of copper produced year-to-date as of October 20, 2021.

Kamoa-Kakula is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%).

The company started production at Kamoa-Kakula using a diesel fleet at the operation, with 75,000-115,000 t of CO2/y projected from diesel usage underground, however Joubert said there was growing confidence in the use of battery-electric vehicles in underground mine sites, mentioning that commercial equipment such as 18 t payload LHDs and 60 t mining trucks were available on the marketplace.

At the Platreef operation in South Africa, which Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64% of through its subsidiary, Ivanplats, Joubert said the company was currently undergoing tradeoff studies to assess battery-electric vehicle usage against diesel machines. This study was likely to be see results by the end of the year, with a tradeoff study then following at Kamoa-Kakula.

At the same time, Platreef Phase 1 will see the company employ three full battery-electric drill rigs and three-battery-electric LHDs. These units have been ordered, with operation expected to start in April 2022. IM understands the units in question are Epiroc Boomer M2 Battery face drill rigs and Scooptram ST14 Battery LHDs.

The performance of these machines, which come on top of plans to deploy battery-electric service vehicles, will be closely monitored, Joubert said. The company will also study other battery-electric vehicle deployments across the mining space.

Even at this stage, though, Joubert was able to conclude: “We are fairly certain that the next replacement mining fleet at Kamoa-Kakula will be battery-electric vehicles.”

Alphamin bolsters gravity separation options with second Gekko IPJ

Alphamin Resources has purchased a second IPJ2400 for tin recovery at the Bisie tin project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gekko Systems says.

The purchase of a second Gekko InLine Pressure Jig (IPJ) unit follows good performance from the first IPJ installed at this site in 2018 (pictured).

In addition, the Ririwai tin project has purchased an IPJ1500 in Nigeria.

The IPJ is a continuous gravity separation device that rapidly and efficiently pre-concentrates high-value and high-density mineral particles such as tin, tantalum, sulphides and free gold, Gekko says.

With installations worldwide, the unit has multiple applications including assisting in gangue rejection and combining with flotation to recover coarse minerals at the plus-100 micron range. The IPJ has significant benefits such as low water consumption, low footprint, ease of operation and 30 years of operational history.

Surface-mining opportunities lie in market-related commodities

Johannesburg-based mining equipment distributor Vermeer Equipment Suppliers is starting to focus on certain market-related commodities and associated open-cast mines to market its surface excavation machines, says Mining and Pipeline Sales Segment Manager, Gareth Cramond.

The machines are being used in Africa at, among others, China Molybdenum’s Tenke Fungurume copper and cobalt mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and exploration and mining services company Société Minière de Boké’s bauxite mines, in Guinea. In South Africa, the machines are being used at diversified miner Exxaro Resources’ Grootegeluk open-cast coal mine, in Limpopo.

Cramond says Vermeer wants to pursue other commodities that will be in demand within the next few years. He notes that the company is approaching mining companies that are mining certain market-related commodities.

The Vermeer surface excavation machine provides users with consistent material size, eliminating the need for primary crushers and increasing efficiencies of loaders and haul trucks. No permits for blasting are required either, the company says. This mining method also facilitates selective mining and selective loading, allowing for the ore to be more easily separated from waste.

Other advantages include access to areas of open-cast mines where drilling and blasting cannot be carried out because of physical or permit limitations, as well as a reduction in noise, dust and vibration, compared with drilling and blasting operations. The machine can mine at a maximum incline up to 30º.

Vermeer Equipment Suppliers MD, Frank Beerthuis, notes that this capability enables the machine to start mining directly after vegetation has been cleared, even on hills and slopes.

“Further, the equipment can remove overburden and, once the orebodies are exposed, mining can continue,” he says. “With drill and blast, a lot of mobilisation and demobilisation of equipment is needed to get to the orebody.”

Cramond argues that there are opportunities to use surface mining technology, such as Vermeer’s surface excavation machines, on existing mines that have “essentially mined themselves out” using traditional mining methods.

“If a mine has drilled and blasted to a certain depth and there is a certain span of their mine site for which they cannot use traditional methods, but there is enough of a commodity that makes it viable to further extend the life span of the mine, surface mining technology may be a unique consideration for them,” he explains.

Further, Vermeer has identified opportunities at greenfield mines in sub-Saharan Africa.

Cramond says that when a miner starts up a greenfield mine and can eliminate the primary crushing process to get the material into the market much quicker, surface mining becomes a viable option if it falls within the capability ranges of the surface mining technology that is going to be used.

Implementing surface excavation machines at greenfield mines can save time and may reduce the initial capital investment, as well as generate revenue much faster than traditional methods, he adds.

“The infrastructure is considerably less expensive to buy and is installed quicker than the construction of a large primary crushing plant, for example,” he says.

The quick start-up of the machines can enable existing mines to take advantage of spiking market prices, Cramond comments.

Implementing surface excavation machines at greenfield mines can save time and may reduce the initial capital investment, as well as generate revenue much faster than traditional methods, Gareth Cramond says

Tools and analysis

Vermeer says it has the tools and data to estimate how the surface excavation machines can perform at a mine. The estimation uses actual data from a mine operation to provide a more realistic estimate of how Vermeer’s technology may benefit a mine.

The company can carry out field testing using a point load tester to test material on site. If the material is within a range deemed acceptable, further testing will be required.

Moreover, Vermeer has its own dedicated rock laboratory in the US, to which interested mines’ rock samples are sent to determine production rates and cost of production of the company’s surface excavation machines in the client’s specific application. These samples are then subjected to various tests and the data is provided for the mine.

Cramond highlights that, even though there are numerous rock laboratories available, Vermeer orientates its rock-testing towards the capabilities of its machines, which enables the company to gain detailed information on the samples and the potential of job sites and compare these afterwards with real life production rates of the equipment. The company uses its in-house developed production calculator to formulate operational costs and production rates on a particular mine site.

If it has been determined that Vermeer’s surface excavation machines are suited to a mine’s operations, the client is given the option to either trial the equipment or visit a mine where the company’s equipment is being used in a similar application.

When trialing the equipment, Vermeer conducts a complete efficiency analysis of the mine and provides this data for the client. Trialing can take from two weeks to three months.

“The future of mining lies in using innovative techniques and three-dimensional digital technology-based methods,” Cramond concludes.

Kamoa-Kakula copper production kicks off

Ivanhoe Mines has announced the start of copper concentrate production at the Phase 1, 3.8 Mt/y Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, several months ahead of schedule.

First ore was introduced into the concentrator plant on May 20 to perform initial hot commissioning tests on the ball mills and other processing equipment. The initial mill feed grade reached approximately 4% Cu shortly after start-up.

As of May 25, 5-6% Cu ore was being conveyed directly from Kakula’s underground mining operations to the run-of-mine stockpile and the concentrator. Based on extensive test work, the concentrator is expected to produce a very high-grade, clean concentrate grading approximately 57% Cu, with extremely low arsenic levels, the company says.

Robert Friedland, Ivanhoe Mines Co-Chairman, said: “This is a historic moment for Ivanhoe Mines and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Discovering and delivering a copper province of this scale, grade and outstanding environmental, social and governance credentials, ahead of schedule and on budget, is a unicorn in the copper mining business. This accomplishment reflects the outstanding cooperation of thousands of individuals, and all of our joint-venture partners at Kamoa-Kakula.”

He added: “Although this exploration journey started well over two decades ago, it also is noteworthy that the Kakula deposit itself was discovered a little over five years ago, which is remarkable progress by the mining industry’s glacial standards from first drill hole to a new major mining operation.”

The initiation of production puts Ivanhoe on the path to establish Kamoa-Kakula as the second largest copper mining complex in the world, according to Friedland.

“What really excites our geologists is the profound potential to find additional Kamoa-Kakula-like copper discoveries on our massive Western Foreland exploration licences right next door, in an identical geologic setting,” he said.

Co-Chairman, Miles Sun, added: “The inception of Phase 1 is the birth of a copper complex that will benefit generations to come, and we very much look forward to the upcoming phases of expansion and exploration opportunities.

“Huge congratulations to the entire Ivanhoe Mines team and a roaring applause to all the hard-working suppliers and contractors for collectively completing this mammoth undertaking!”

Ivanhoe’s guidance for contained copper in concentrate expected to be produced by the Kamoa-Kakula project for the balance of 2021 assumes a ramp-up from first production in line with published technical disclosures, with contained copper in concentrate output of 80,000-95,000 t.

In April, the Kakula Mine mined 357,000 t of ore grading 5.7% Cu, including 121,000 t grading 8.4% Cu from the mine’s high-grade centre.

Kakula, Ivanhoe says, is projected to be the world’s highest-grade major copper mine, with an initial mining rate of 3.8 Mt/y, ramping up to 7.6 Mt/y in the September quarter of 2022. Phase 1 is expected to produce approximately 200,000 t/y of copper, and phases 1 and 2 combined are forecast to produce approximately 400,000 t/y of copper.

Based on independent benchmarking, the project’s phased expansion scenario to 19 Mt/y would position Kamoa-Kakula as the world’s second-largest copper mining complex, with peak annual copper production of more than 800,000 t.

Given the current copper price environment, Ivanhoe and its partner Zijin are exploring the acceleration of the Kamoa-Kakula Phase 3 concentrator expansion from 7.6 Mt/y to 11.4 Mt/y, which may be fed from expanded mining operations at Kansoko, or new mining areas at Kamoa North (including the Bonanza Zone) and Kakula West.

The Kamoa-Kakula copper project is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Ltd (0.8%) and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (20%).

Alongside this announcement, the company confirmed that Kamoa Copper had appointed Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) CONGO SA, an accredited laboratory service provider, for on-site analytical services. SGS is one of the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification companies. The new assay laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.

Results for various mine, exploration and processing sample types will be reported using a wide range of analytical techniques that are specifically selected to provide accurate and precise results within the time required to efficiently control concentrator and mine processes.

Process control samples will be analysed using portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF) devices with a quick turnaround time for concentrator plant monitoring and control. Metal accounting samples will be analysed by using two simultaneous ICP-OES multi-element instruments. The dual measurement mode of the ICP-OES instrumentation enables the analysis of critical elements such as mercury, arsenic, lead, etc by providing high measurement sensitivity while the combination of two-sample digestion methods (fusion and acid digestion) will cover a wide range of analytic levels, Ivanhoe said.

The high-grade copper samples will be analysed using the classical iodide titration method, which provides good accuracy and precision that is required for the dispatch samples, the company said. Convenient and flexible potentiometric auto titrators provide efficient and accurate results that are fully traceable to international methods and standards.

FLSmidth high density thickeners optimise recoveries at DRC copper-cobalt mine

FLSmidth says it has delivered a thickener solution to help double production rates at one of the world’s largest copper and cobalt producers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The order for the solution, which included six of FLSmidth’s high density thickeners, was placed in 2020, with delivery now completed.

The mine already had FLSmidth thickeners on site, with the company’s proposal for the mine’s expanded requirements  based on test work to confirm the characteristics of the material to be treated, according to FLSmidth General Manager Projects and Account Sales, Howard Areington.

“The tests confirmed that we could use a similar design to what we had installed on the mine some years previously,” he says. “This solution included six counter current decantation (CCD) thickeners and one pre-leach thickener, each measuring 31 m in diameter.”

These units deliver high solids underflow to optimise the recovery of dissolved metals, according to FLSmidth. In addition to the steeper floor slope, these thickeners were designed with a high torque ring gear drive design, with high tolerances that make for minimal maintenance over long periods of time, the company says.

“Our high density thickener design ensures consistently high underflow densities which allows the operator to sustain high production rates and better recoveries,” Areington says.

These CCD thickeners are manufactured from LDX2101 duplex stainless steel. This provides mechanical benefits without compromising chemical resistance, allowing the mass of each unit to be reduced, the company explained. The pre-leach thickener, which was not exposed to corrosive conditions, is constructed from carbon steel.

“We also designed and supplied five impurities removal thickeners, which are high rate thickeners, also in LDX2101 stainless steel,” Areington says. “The sizes of these units ranged from 20 to 30 m in diameter.”

Fabrication of the equipment was carried out in South Africa while accommodating the demands of the COVID-19 lockdown, which required careful planning and flexibility. With components and platework delivered to site, the welding and construction was conducted by the mine with installation assistance from FLSmidth and its agent in the region.

SRK Consulting helps DRC miner with social development ‘first’

A large mining company in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has – with assistance from SRK Consulting Congo – become the first to have its Cahier de Charge (Social Term Sheet) approved, the mining consultant says.

Regulations introduced in the DRC in 2018 require mines to set out a clear and financially-provisioned five-year plan for local social development – a Cahier de Charge – in consultation with local communities and stakeholders. According to Susa Maleba, Country Manager at SRK Consulting Congo, the key aspect of the new requirement was that effective consultation be conducted.

“Mines generally have community development plans but these are often designed by the mine, which historically had little formalised input from local communities or other stakeholders,” said Maleba. “This compulsory consultative process – as part of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment – ensures that mine initiatives align with the real needs and preferences of those affected by the mine.”

The mining company contracted SRK Consulting Congo to work with its DRC mine on planning and implementing the consultation. This process began in 2018 and lasted four months. The final agreement between the communities and the company was signed off in March 2019.

Established a decade ago in Lubumbashi, the local SRK office appointed its stakeholder engagement specialist, Philippe Katuta, to guide the process.

Susa Maleba, Country Manager at SRK Consulting Congo

“As an experienced local expert who is well regarded by the mining communities, Phillipe supervised the process with the client – facilitating contact between the mine, three local communities, the ‘chefferies’ tribal structure and provincial government,” Maleba said.

He highlighted the importance of having the trust of all parties in the consultation, to ensure frank engagement and effective buy-in. This, in turn, helped ensure proper implementation of the agreed plan, so that the intended benefits would be achieved, according to SRK.

“Essential factors in the success of the process included our experience in stakeholder engagement and our local knowledge – from local language communication to the traditions and customs to be observed,” Maleba said. “Working with mining companies, we emphasise the social licence aspect of their strategy and operations – which prioritises close working relationships with partners, communities and government. It means applying the spirit – not just the letter – of the law.”

Among the social development imperatives highlighted by communities during the engagements were transformers to link with the country’s power grid, boreholes for access to water, agricultural extension programs and trade training for local youth.

Maleba acknowledged that it was seldom easy to balance the expectations of communities with the financial resources of the mining company, but this made the relationship of trust a vital foundation for collaboration.

He also noted that the new regulations provided for ongoing monitoring of mines’ community development plans – to ensure that what was promised was in fact delivered, in line with a predetermined schedule.

FLSmidth’s global thickener collaboration hits the right notes in Africa

The use of FLSmidth thickeners in African mining operations has continued to grow, supported by, the company says, global collaboration across the FLSmidth organisation’s offices in South Africa, China and the USA.

According to Alistair McKay, FLSmidth’s Vice President for Mining in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, the company is set to deliver six substantial thickener contracts to mines in Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2020. McKay highlights that Chinese companies have been driving much of the growth in the continent’s mining sector.

“In our work in Africa with Chinese customers, we have found that our Beijing office plays a valuable role in ensuring streamlined communication and efficiency,” he says. “This allows a constructive combination of our local knowledge with the ability of our Chinese colleagues to facilitate relationships with our customers in China.”

This differentiator has enhanced FLSmidth’s acknowledged leadership in thickener technology in the region. The company will deliver 25 new thickeners, including high rate, high density and counter-current decantation thickeners, in southern and central Africa this year.

“The design work for these contracts was conducted by FLSmidth’s centre of excellence in the USA,” McKay says. “Given our established local infrastructure and experience in this product range, the thickeners were cost-effectively manufactured in South Africa and China.”

While the fabrication and platework was completed using local skills, the FLSmidth on-site technical support presence to construct and commission the thickeners at Chinese-owned mines in the DRC will integrate staff from the Beijing office.

“This improved communication between FLSmidth and the customer has negated the risk of any misalignment that could slow the process down,” McKay says. “In fact, our Beijing office has become increasingly involved in the full delivery process, fulfilling the role of the project manager. This is significant as the building of relationships across east-west contracts becomes increasingly important.”

FLSmidth offers full-service capabilities in thickener technology, McKay says, starting with bench or pilot scale test work to characterise customers’ material. This informs the customer’s flowsheet and equipment selection and sizing, and the right technology application for cost-effective, optimised operation, the company says.

Protea Mining Chemicals develops world first copper-cobalt processing solution

Diversified chemicals group, Omnia Holdings, reports its Protea Mining Chemicals division has become the first in its field – globally – to develop a solution that helps copper and cobalt mines reduce product contamination (improving metal purity levels) and maximise throughput in the solvent extraction (SX) process.

This pioneering solution took six years to develop and was carried out in partnership with chemicals manufacturers and copper and cobalt mining customers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Omnia said.

“Finding safer, more efficient ways to extract valuable resources and enhance profitability continues to be a priority in the mining sector – which has been particularly constrained by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the company said.

“This discovery will extend the life of copper and cobalt mines and assist profitability. Protea Mining Chemicals is working closely with other mines to replicate this success in other regions.”

Michael Smith, Managing Director at Protea Mining Chemicals (pictured), said: “Over the past few decades, many unsuccessful attempts have been made by mining houses, global chemical manufacturers, as well as SX equipment and process engineers to address this issue of contamination. Needless to say, this has been a very challenging journey and we are delighted by what we have been able to achieve.”

The news comes hot on the heels of Omnia’s BME breaking the South African record for the largest electronic detonator blast.