Tag Archives: England

Tungsten West set to bring Hemerdon tungsten-tin mine back into production

Tungsten West, the mining company focused on recommencing production at the Hemerdon tungsten and tin mine in Devon, England, has announced its intention to proceed with an initial public offering on London’s AIM market.

The company has conditionally raised £39 million ($53 million) before expenses, with plans to debut on the bourse on October 21 with a market capitalisation of approximately £106.2 million.

The net proceeds of the offer, together with the $49 million project financing from a fund managed by Orion Resource Partners, will be used to, among other things, execute the planned capital expenditure and corporate commitments of £44.6 million for improvement works at the Hemerdon Mine, bringing it back into commercial production.

Hemerdon is, Tungsten West says, the third largest tungsten resource globally, as well as being a previously producing mine that was operational from 2015-2018. Tungsten West purchased the Hemerdon Mine in 2019, and has since completed a bankable feasibility study that demonstrated an extensive reserve of approximately 63.3 Mt at 0.18% W and 0.03% Sn, as well as 37.4 Mt of saleable aggregate material. The company estimates that the life of mine is currently 18.5 years with the opportunity to extend this through future investment.

The mine already has the majority of its infrastructure in place, with previous owner Wolf Minerals Ltd having invested over £170 million into the development of the mine and its processing facilities, which include an open-pit mine, mineral processing facility and mine waste facility, the company says. With a substantial amount of existing infrastructure, the development costs associated with re-starting the mine are estimated to be £44.6 million. This existing infrastructure also means that the rebuild is only expected to take 12 months, with parts of the restart project already underway.

Having acquired the mine out of a receivership process, Tungsten West completed a significant amount of work to enable it to understand and address the issues historically experienced by Wolf Minerals, including a 6,113 m geological exploration drilling program and several technical studies. The company has identified the past issues experienced by Wolf Minerals that required rectifying.

“One of the main issues was a poor mineral process route design, with several items of equipment, particularly in the front end of the plant, causing plant downtime and hindering the recovery of the tungsten and tin minerals,” Tungsten West says. “Tungsten West has therefore designated a material proportion of its rebuild costs to modifying and updating the front-end of the processing plant. This will include replacing the existing crushing circuit with new duty and standby primary jaw crushers and secondary cone crushers.”

In addition, the introduction of X-ray Transmission ore sorting, which the company previously carried out tests on with TOMRA Mining in Germany, substantially reduces processing costs by rejecting around 70% of the ore fed to the sorters, it says.

Further upgrades to the plant commenced by the previous operator will be completed, including the dense media separation feed stockpile where 24 hours of surge capacity will be installed, decoupling the front-end of the plant from the concentrator circuit.

“Through these actions, the company expects plant operating time to improve from circa-53% under previous operatorship to the industry standard of circa-81% under Tungsten West,” Tungsten West says.

Tungsten West has identified further opportunities for by-product cash flow through the production and sale of aggregates. A new aggregate plant will be fed with ore sorter rejects and with the waste streams from the processing plant. The business plan is to sell to local aggregate consumers, such as GRS, providing them with a stable, long-term and sustainable source of these materials.

The company says it has implemented a number of initiatives to ensure a minimal impact on the surrounding environment and local community. These include optimising the plants low frequency noise to ensure minimal environmental impact and a fully cash funded £13.2 million restoration bond.

Max Denning, CEO of Tungsten West, says: “With the proposed £39 million raise announced today, and the £36 million funding package from Orion, we will be fully funded for the development of Hemerdon back into production. We look forward to welcoming new investors into this compelling business and working with all our stakeholders to ensure that the newly reinvigorated Hemerdon mine is a beacon of mining excellence in the UK.”

GeoLith’s LiCapt Direct Lithium Extraction tech to be tested at GeoCubed’s United Downs project

GeoCubed, the joint venture between Cornish Lithium Ltd and Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL), has announced that GeoLith SAS has been selected to provide its Li-Capt® Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology for GeoCubed’s pilot plant at the United Downs project in Cornwall, England.

GeoLith’s DLE technology was selected for use in the pilot plant following a comprehensive tender process. The £4 million ($5.5 million) plant, being supported by the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership with £2.9 million from the UK Government’s Getting Building Fund, is due to be commissioned at United Downs by the end of March 2022.

GeoLith says its Li-Capt DLE technology is compatible with groundwater temperatures of up to 70°C and is able to treat low concentration brines.

During the selection process, GeoCubed and Cornish Lithium engaged with over 10 providers of DLE technologies to evaluate their effectiveness on Cornish geothermal waters. Following the completion of these evaluations, five providers formally tendered their DLE technology for use in the plant. GeoLith’s technology was selected due to the quality of its tender, the effectiveness of its technology, and the company’s ability to design and deliver a pilot plant, Cornish Lithium said.

The pilot plant will be used to process the 140 cu.m of deep geothermal water successfully obtained during GEL’s recent testing at its United Downs site, which will confirm that lithium can be produced in Cornwall from geothermal brine, Cornish Lithium said. The plant is planned to have a nominal capacity of 10 t/y of lithium carbonate equivalent and the results of the pilot are expected to provide sufficient information to enable the design of a commercial lithium plant in Cornwall.

Jeremy Wrathall, CEO and Founder of Cornish Lithium and a Director of GeoCubed, said: “We are delighted to announce that GeoCubed has selected GeoLith’s Li-Capt technology for use in this pilot plant. We have established a good working relationship with the team at GeoLith, who provided a demonstration plant, along with their operations team, to enable us to test their DLE technology on our shallow geothermal water samples in June. This test work provided excellent results and we look forward to working with them.

“The pilot plant being constructed at Cornish Lithium’s test site at United Downs will enable us to demonstrate what modern, low-carbon mineral extraction looks like as well as demonstrating the viability of DLE technology on Cornish geothermal waters. By processing the 140 cu.m of geothermal waters collected from the United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project, the pilot plant will provide important data to enable the design and construction of a commercial-scale plant as we work to establish this innovative minerals extraction industry for the benefit of Cornwall and the UK.”

Jean-Philippe Gibaud, CEO and Founder of GeoLith, said: “We are honoured to have been selected to provide our lithium filter technology as the ‘technological enabler’ of this clean lithium mining project, demonstrating the feasibility of sustainable mining for the future. We would like to congratulate GeoCubed on this first semi-industrial lithium brine production facility in Europe.”

Siltbuster delivers modular water treatment system to Anglo’s Woodsmith mine

Siltbuster, the water treatment specialist, says it has designed and installed a surface water treatment solution for Anglo American at its Woodsmith polyhalite mine on the North Yorkshire coast of England.

The polyhalite deposit can only be accessed from within the North York Moors National Park, so extensive steps have been taken to limit the environmental impact of the mine, using innovative design solutions and engineering ingenuity, Siltbuster says.

The mine infrastructure has been designed to be sympathetic to its location: the number and size of the buildings has been reduced to a minimum, which, together with extensive landscaping and planting, will ensure the site is screened and blends in with the surrounding area. At the same time, mined ore will only be transported underground, in recognition of the sensitivity of the area, in a 37 km tunnel to the materials handling facility on Teesside, eliminating the need for surface transportation.

“This careful stewardship and protection of the surrounding environment has also extended to water management on site,” Siltbuster said. “During construction, the collected surface rainwater via the on-site collection drainage system can contain an elevated level of suspended solid particles which require removal prior to discharge back into the natural water courses to ensure there is no environment impact. The collected surface water passes through a series of lagoons to remove the gross solids, but the water can still contain elevated level of suspended clay particles that do not settle under natural gravity.”

Anglo American has, therefore, invested in a treatment system, with a high degree of system automation, located within a structure that blends in with the surrounding scenery, in line with the overall project design, the company says.

With the new modular treatment system in place, including 2no. HB200R Lamella Clarifiers with Mix Tanks, over 5.7 million litres of water can be treated each day. Continuous online monitoring of flow, pH and suspended solids of the treated surface water ensure discharge criteria are being met consistently before releasing back into the natural water course, Siltbuster explained. If any of the monitoring parameters are above the trigger level, the system will shut down automatically with an instant text alert submitted to the site operators.

Rob Staniland, Manager for Environment and Permitting at the Woodsmith Project, said: “It is essential that we have robust, reliable systems and partners to help us meet our stringent planning conditions and environmental safety targets. Siltbuster have proven to be just that, providing us with a great solution to helps us deliver on the minimal impact ethos of the whole project.”

Louis Pang, Project Manager, at Siltbuster, added: “The new treatment plant has not only provided an effective and easy-to-operate system, with the system design being modular and built off-site, the on-site construction and installation time was kept to a minimum, thereby minimising the environmental impact, an important environmental criteria set by Anglo American.”

WCM’s Woodhouse Colliery met coal project heads for site work

West Cumbria Mining says the UK Government has agreed with Cumbria County Council’s decision to approve the planning application for its Woodhouse Colliery project in the northeast of England and has lifted its “holding direction”.

The decision means the company can make plans to commence site works later this year at the metallurgical coal project.

Cumbria County Council (CCC) Development Control and Regulation Committee, in October, resolved again to grant planning approval to West Cumbria Mining (WCM) to develop the project. This was the second such time the council had approved the project, following a formal approval back in March 2019.

Even with this approval in tow, the UK government could have stepped in to further scrutinise CCC’s sign off – a move they decided not to employ.

CEO Mark Kirkbride said on hearing the news: “I am delighted that the holding direction has been lifted following what has been an extremely rigorous planning process. My team and I are now looking forward to concluding planning signoff and then being able to commence preparatory steps to begin site work later this year.”

When the CCC approval was granted, WCM said it anticipated starting site work early in 2021 (before spring), with initial coal production commencing around 18 months from the start of construction.

Once the Woodhouse Colliery moves into the operational phase, the company plans to extract and process around 2.7 Mt/y of metallurgical coal from the operation, focused on supplying UK and international steelmaking plants.

Run-out and pocket extraction will be the chosen mining method at Woodhouse as this is a proven, highly versatile coal mining method that takes advantage of advancements in mining technology to mitigate risks associated with the Cumbrian Coal fields, the company says.

The technique includes the use of bolter miners to develop the gate roads for the panel, with a bolter miner then driving a run-out roadway. A continuous miner subsequently cuts chevron cut pockets into the pillars, while the roof is supported. Shuttle cars continuously move coal from the respective continuous miners to the feeder breaker and, once coal has passed through the feeder breaker, it falls onto the underground conveyor belt to be taken to surface.

Once processed, the coal at Woodhouse will be transported to the railway loading facility (RLF) in the Pow Beck Valley, near Mirehouse, via an underground conveyor buried in a concrete box culvert, which will mitigate any visual, noise or dust issues between the mine site and RLF, in recognition of the sensitivity of the area, WCM says.