Tag Archives: fertilisers

Mkango, Grupa Azoty PULAWY assess potential for Polish rare earth separation plant

Mkango Resources has joined with Grupa Azoty Zakłady Azotowe Pulawy SA to work towards development of a rare earth separation plant in Poland.

A new Polish wholly owned subsidiary of Mkango, Mkango Polska, has been established, with an experienced Country Director for Poland, Jarosław Pączek, appointed. Pączek will be joined by rare earth separation experts, Carester, and a strong team of technical advisors and engineers to help steer the collaboration.

Grupa Azoty PULAWY is part of The Grupa Azoty Group, the EU’s second largest manufacturer of nitrogen and compound fertilisers, and a major chemicals producer. Its products are exported to over 20 countries around the world, including Europe, the Americas and Asia, according to Mkango.

The parties have signed an exclusive lease option agreement for a site adjacent to Grupa Azoty PULAWY’s large-scale fertiliser and chemicals complex at Pulawy in Poland. This location is served by excellent infrastructure, access to reagents and utilities on site, and an attractive operating environment, resulting in a highly competitive operating cost position for the plant, based on scoping studies to date, Mkango says.

“Located within a Polish Special Economic Zone, the site provides excellent access to European and international markets,” it added. “Production from the plant will strengthen Europe’s security of supply for rare earths, used in electric vehicles, wind turbines and other green technology and strategic applications, and aligns with European initiatives to create more robust, diversified supply chains.”

The plant is expected to initially produce approximately 2,000 t/y of neodymium, praseodymium and/or didymium (NdPr) oxides as well as a heavy rare earth enriched carbonate, containing approximately 50 t/y dysprosium and terbium oxides. It is also expected to produce lanthanum cerium carbonate. Mkango is also evaluating marketing and processing options for the heavy rare earth enriched carbonate and lanthanum cerium carbonate.

“The plant will use best-in-class, conventional and proven technology, and will benefit from excellent rail and road infrastructure as well as the direct supply of the required processing reagents from Grupa Azoty PULAWY,” Mkango said. “It will also have access to a local skilled workforce, on-site engineering and project development expertise and R&D science institutes.”

Based on scoping studies undertaken to date, the plant is expected to have highly competitive operating costs.

Further feasibility studies will be completed by Carester, SENET (a DRA Global Group company) and a local engineering firm, Prozap, together with support from Grupa Azoty PULAWY. Mkango is also working closely with ANSTO to optimise feed specifications for the plant.

Development of the plant is expected to be underpinned by the sustainable supply of a purified mixed rare earth carbonate from Mkango’s Songwe Hill project in Malawi (pictured). Mkango will also evaluate the potential to process third-party feeds. The feasibility studies for the plant will run in parallel with those for the Songwe Hill rare earths project.

Mkango says it will also seek to maximise the renewable energy content and minimise the carbon impact of the developments in both Malawi and Poland, as part of the feasibility studies.

William Dawes, Chief Executive of Mkango, said: “Development of this plant will underline Mkango’s unique positioning in the rare earths sector. Our integrated ‘mine, refine, recycle’ strategy, encompassing sustainably sourced light (NdPr) and heavy (Dy/Tb) rare earths from Malawi and rare earth magnet (NdFeB) recycling in the UK, via our interest in HyProMag, is now enhanced by the opportunity to create a rare earths separation and downstream hub in Poland, working with one of Europe’s largest chemical and fertiliser companies.

“Rare earths are a vital component of magnets required in many technologies needed for the green energy transition. Therefore, their security of supply is becoming increasingly important to governments worldwide, especially in Europe and the US.

“We have carried out extensive due diligence on the site and believe the development of the plant in Poland will enhance the sustainable supply of rare earths into Europe, as well as bringing significant benefits to the region, creating new jobs and potential, additional, downstream developments.”

Andrzej Skwarek, Management Board Member of Grupa Azoty PULAWY, said: “We look forward to working together with Mkango on this exciting project, which complements the adjacent activities of Grupa Azoty PULAWY, benefiting from synergies in relation to reagents, by-products, utilities and infrastructure. As an industry leader in Poland, Grupa Azoty PULAWY welcomes this potential new development to the region and will continue to support Mkango as it progresses through the feasibility studies.”

Jarosław Pączek, Mkango’s Country Director for Poland, said: “This is a very exciting development for Poland at a time when Europe is focused on strengthening supply chains for critical materials and transitioning to a greener economy. The creation of a new European hub for rare earths at the heart of central Europe in Poland complements battery, electric vehicle and renewable energy developments in the region, with a site strategically located for European trade and transport routes and benefiting from plug and play access to reagents and utilities. I look forward to working with Mkango and Grupa Azoty PULAWY on this ground-breaking project for Poland and Europe.”

Anglo American pledges further investment in Woodsmith polyhalite project

Anglo American is to invest more money in the construction of its Woodsmith polyhalite mine in Yorkshire, UK, in 2021, following sound progress on the development in 2020.

In an investor presentation this week, Chief Executive, Mark Cutifani, announced the company will invest $500 million in Woodsmith next year, an increase on the $300 million it had previously committed to spending.

The improved funding commitment was, he said, a reflection of the good progress that was “ahead of expectations” and “to ensure that the critical path elements continue to proceed at the optimal pace and sequence”.

It was also revealed that the first drive of the 37 km tunnel from Wilton on Teesside was nearing the 12 km mark and that good progress was being made on preparing for further mineshaft sinking operations at the Woodsmith Mine site near Whitby, which are expected to begin in the new year.

Simon Carter, Chief Development Officer on the Woodsmith Project, said: “It’s been an incredibly challenging and busy time on the project recently, not least because of the adaptations and safety measures we’ve introduced to make sure that we can work safely during COVID-19. But, I am incredibly proud that the whole team has pulled together and enabled us to make such good progress. I’m delighted that we have been able to buck the trend of many businesses and expanded our workforce, providing important opportunities for people in the region in these difficult times.”

Anglo American has hired around 150 new people since it launched a recruitment drive in the autumn, with around 60 more expected to be hired in the coming weeks. Almost three quarters of these new workers have been hired from areas local to the project in North Yorkshire and Teesside.

The announcement of increased funding is expected to allow the project to recruit an additional 130 construction workers and dozens of additional management and administration roles next year, which will increase the size of the workforce to around 1,400.

The project involves the sinking of two mineshafts with Herrenknecht’s Shaft Boring Roadheader technology into the polyhalite ore over 1.6 km beneath the surface near Whitby, and the construction of a 37 km long tunnel to a new processing and shipping facility on Teesside.

When the mine is complete, extracted polyhalite ore will be hoisted up the mineshaft and transported underground on a conveyor belt, avoiding any impact on the countryside above, the company says. From there, it will be shipped around the world and sold to farmers as a natural low carbon fertiliser, certified for organic use.

Veolia crystalliser technology to help Salt Lake Potash produce SOP

Veolia Water Technologies says it has been contracted by Salt Lake Potash to supply HPD® crystallisation systems for its Lake Way potash mining project in Western Australia.

The systems will help the company produce a high-quality sulphate of potash (SOP) fertiliser, it said.

Salt Lake Potash is developing Lake Way into a 245,000 t/y SOP (K2SO4) operation, with first production expected by the end of the year. To recover low-cost, high-grade SOP, the production uses solar evaporation to concentrate the hypersaline, potassium-rich brines for salt harvesting, according to Veolia.

To further process these solids, Veolia will design and supply two HPD crystallisers: one to grow 32 t/h of high-purity potassium sulphate crystals, the other to recycle 54 t/h of solids to yield the maximum potassium recovery.

As part of this contract, Veolia provided bench-scale testing at its Phillip J. Stewart Technology centre in Plainfield, Illinois (USA). The results validated the feed chemistry, simulated the optimal flowsheet design, and confirmed process performance projections that helped to de-risk the project, according to the company.

To accelerate this fast-track project and achieve the delivery schedule, Veolia staged the progress to advance the basic engineering and testing simultaneously, it said. “These actions not only optimised capital investments but also lowered operating costs through a system design that minimises fouling and cleaning requirements,” the company explained.

Jim Brown, CEO of Veolia Water Technologies Americas, said: “We are pleased to support Salt Lake Potash in delivering natural fertilisers to a market hungry for specialty potash nutrients. Based on test work, which confirmed the process viability, our reliable proven crystalliser technology will help the flagship Lake Way project set the industry benchmark in producing high-grade SOP.”

With its HPD technologies tailored to growing fully-soluble crystals, Veolia helps global fertiliser producers optimise their recovery operations and the value of its product portfolio with a focus on enhancing environmental sustainability as well as energy and resource efficiencies, it said.

Itronics’ Rock Kleen technology ready to clean up heap leach operations

Itronics says test work on two separate precious metals closed heap leach materials pads has provided positive results in recovering metals and minerals using its proprietary “Zero Waste” technologies.

Rock Kleen Tailings Processing Technology neutralises the residual cyanide and removes nitrogen produced by blasting rocks in the mining process, making the materials available for use as industrial minerals, according to Itronics.

This means it offers potential value to miners through the recovery of precious and base metals, the removal of cyanide (from leaching) and nitrogen (from blasting), the potential to produce industrial minerals products from ‘waste’ rock, and the potential elimination or reduction of the capital costs associated with conventional tailings storage facilities.

Itronics said the test work at its metallurgical laboratory on two separate silver-rich closed heap leach materials pads had provided positive results in recovering precious metals, base metals and industrial minerals. The company said laboratory testing also indicated the technology would prove effective on copper heap leaches.

Whitney & Whitney, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Itronics, has designed flow sheets for two different heap leach waste materials processing operations, which recover gold, silver and various base metals based upon the processing test work completed by Itronics Metallurgical Inc.

“Mineralogical analysis has defined potential industrial mineral products for the two separate resources allowing for 100% of the available resources being converted to saleable products,” it said.

Rock Kleen tech neutralises the residual cyanide and removes nitrogen produced by blasting the rocks in the mining process, making the materials available for use as industrial minerals, according to Itronics. This is where the company’s GOLD’n GRO Multi-Nutrient fertilisers come into the equation, according to President, Dr John Whitney.

“Base metals recovered using Rock Kleen technology are perfect for use as raw materials in the Itronics GOLD’n GRO fertiliser manufacturing process,” he said. “Designing gold/silver heap leach mines using Rock Kleen, or Rock Kleen in conjunction with cyanide leaching, will ensure maximum heap leach recoveries while targeting 100% of the resource as profitable product.”

The company says Rock Kleen technology has the potential to turn lower grade gold/silver deposits into profitable operations.

“Conventional cyanide leaching may recover a high percentage of soluble gold and a portion of the silver, but all the remaining materials are left as a waste product,” the company says. “Rock Kleen recovers additional gold/silver and base metals, and then the remaining rock can be sized for commercial grades of industrial minerals for sale leaving zero waste from the mining enterprise.”

John Key, Vice President, Projects for Whitney & Whitney, said: “Pilot scale testing is very promising. Each deposit must be evaluated on a standalone basis but many existing operations and heap leach projects being designed now could potentially benefit greatly by including a design using Rock Kleen or including the Rock Kleen technology into their flowsheets in conjunction with cyanide leaching.”

thyssenkrupp to help build new Uzbekistan chemical complex, Ferkensco says

A new chemical complex aimed at increasing the production of fertilisers in Uzbekistan is to be built, with help from thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, lead investor Ferkensco Management Ltd reports.

The construction of the new facility is in line with the Presidential Decree of April 3, 2019 on reforms in the chemical industry and making it more attractive for foreign investment, and The Presidential Decree of February 1, 2019 on the development of cooperation between the Republic of Uzbekistan and Germany, according to Ferkensco.

It is expected that the new complex will be built in the Samarkand region (pictured), on territory owned by JSC Samarkandkimyo, and that potential output at the complex will include ammonium sulphate, urea, melamine and phosphorous-based fertilisers, with the output to be used domestically, but with the option for increased exports.

“The Presidential Initiatives support increased synergies between the oil and gas and agriculture sectors, and the use of a specific quality of domestic gas for fertiliser production,” Ferkensco said, adding: “The petrochemical industry and fertilisers have an important role to play in growing Uzbekistan’s economy in the upcoming years.”

Siemens setting the safety standard in mine winders

The most recent update to Siemens mine winder portfolio will see this infrastructure equipment benefit from not only the latest digitalisation tools, but also the highest safety standards, Roland Gebhard says.

This update, on the one hand, brings its Winder Technological Controller (WTC) fully in line with the latest digitalisation standards using the Simatic S7-1500 digitalisation platform. On the other hand, it ensures the solution adheres to safety integrity level (SIL) 3, Gebhard, the company’s Product Manager for mine winders, said in the company’s Minerals Focus publication.

Gebhard said Siemens is the first company worldwide to integrate this safety standard in a mine hoist. “The new controllers are compliant with most international safety standards, including the German TAS and the Chinese MA,” he said. “The safety system is used primarily for speed and position monitoring, depending on the operating mode and conveyance position in the shaft.”

Additional functions of the WTC include the continuous acquisition and collection of motor, converter, brake system and mine winder data. This accumulated data is downloaded to one of the Siemens Winder Competence Centers and analysed as the basis for recommended preventive maintenance.

Among the first installations to benefit from the new WTC is the Woodsmith polyhalite mine in the UK (pictured, credit: Sirius Minerals), owned by Sirius Minerals.

From 2021, the Woodsmith mine is expected to become the world’s largest polyhalite producer.

OLKO- Maschinentechnik GmbH, which is supplying two Blair Multi-Rope machines for the mine, has ordered the electrical equipment from Siemens.

One hoist will bring polyhalite from a depth of approximately 1,450 m below sea level to the surface at a speed of 18 m/s; the other, with a capacity of 35 t, is for service.

The scope of delivery comprises a medium-voltage synchronous motor with an output of 9.3 MW and a torque of 1,550 kNm. Both winders are fitted with a COBRA01 multi-channel brake system to provide soft braking.

Gebhard concluded: “Thanks to Siemens, mine hoists like the one at the Woodsmith mine are now more digital and safer than ever.”

Siebtechnik and Tema join together

Siebtechnik and Tema have decided to join up and create Siebtechnik Tema as a way of bolstering the new company’s brand identity in the markets for centrifuges, screening machines, and sampling and preparation systems and components.

The two firms already belong to the same group of companies which also includes South Africa-based Multotec.

The company said: “The main aim of this partnership is to ensure a common brand name as well as the finetuning of the worldwide sales and service structures with production sites and representative offices in Germany, the Netherlands, the US, Great Britain, France, Spain, China and Australia.”

Siebtechnik Tima produces mineral separation and screening equipment for the global coal and fertiliser industries, in addition to hammer- and hammer-impact mills, and channel conveyors.