The Chemours Company has begun commissioning its newest mineral sand mine, Trail Ridge South, in Florida, USA.
The new mining operation represents a $93 million investment that will create approximately 50 new jobs in the three-county area, and will incorporate Mobile Mining Units (MMUs) that were previously tested out at the company’s Jesup, Georgia mining site, allowing for reduced dependency on traditional dredge or truck and shovel mining processes.
Commissioning work to test operational aspects of the new mine has begun, with startup anticipated later this year. Expansion of its mining operations will allow Chemours – the only domestic producer of titanium and zirconium minerals and one of only two domestic producers of rare earth minerals – to have additional access to these high-quality concentrated deposits used to produce Chemours’ Ti-Pure™ brand of titanium dioxide (TiO₂).
“The commissioning of our new Trail Ridge South mine is much more than an operational milestone – it represents a huge win for our customers, community, and our country,” Jody Sciance, co-Director of Minerals Operations for Chemours, said. “This secure, domestic mineral supply means more tonnes of TiO₂ for our pigment customers, more jobs for Clay County residents, and access to critical materials identified by the U.S. Department of the Interior as vital to our nation’s security and economic prosperity – all with minimal impact on our local environment. We are extremely proud to expand our footprint in Florida and look forward to partnering with this community for years to come.”
The MMUs to be used at Trail Ridge South, an expansion of its existing Trail Ridge operation, allow the site to have much lower emissions, reduced dust levels and improved safety by removing conventional hauling trucks, Chemours says. In addition, the Trail Ridge South facility will recycle 98% of its water used in the manufacturing process – providing sustainable solutions while still meeting the company’s commitment to process minerals. Trail Ridge South process water and water treatment ponds are all constructed above ground, with approximately 39 million gallons (177 million litres) of storage capacity.
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 in 2021 that these units 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 don’t stack up as the best business case. The MMUs provide a far safer and substantially reduced cost per tonne solution compared with other options.
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 run of mine 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.