Tag Archives: nickel

Panoramic, Primero and Barminco get to work on restarting Savannah nickel operation

Panoramic Resources Ltd, after a 12-month review process, has approved the restart of the Savannah Nickel Operation, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The decision hinges on a 12-year mine life with an average annual production target of 9,072 t of nickel, 4,683 t of copper and 676 t cobalt in concentrate; as well as an offtake agreement with Trafigura that will also see the trading company provide a loan facility of up to A$45 million to cover the A$41 million of upfront capital cost required to restart the mine.

Savannah is set to operate at average site all-in costs of A$6.36/lb of payable nickel, net of copper and cobalt by-product credits and royalty payments. This equates to roughly $4.86/Ib or $10,714/t.

Savannah, with more than A$100 million already invested, has been maintained since the suspension of operations in April 2020 with a view towards operational readiness and project optimisation. This includes the recent completion of the FAR#3 ventilation raise, underground capital development on four mining levels at Savannah North and ancillary capital works on surface and underground infrastructure, which are currently being completed, Panoramic said.

The restart decision has led to divisions of Perenti and NRW Holdings being awarded significant contracts related to the resumption of mining activities.

Barminco, a subsidiary of the Perenti Group, has been awarded a four-year underground mining contract under a binding letter of intent and is scheduled to mobilise to site in July 2021. The contract will be serviced by new underground mining equipment including the use of tele-remote mining equipment, expected to deliver both safety and productivity benefits, Panoramic said.

The contractor was formally awarded the A$200 million contract back in February.

“Based on Barminco’s previous working knowledge at Savannah, opportunities to increase ore production and reduce dilution have also been identified,” the company added, explaining that underground mining is planned to commence in August, with ore to initially be sourced from both the Savannah and the Savannah North deposits.

Following an evaluation of an owner-operator model for the processing plant and a competitive contract tender process, Panoramic has also signed a non-binding letter of intent worth A$35 million with Primero (owned by NRW Holdings), which envisages a three-year agreement. The agreement relates to all processing and maintenance work at the Savannah processing plant, which has been maintained in “excellent condition” during the suspension, Panoramic said.

“A number of opportunities for improved recoveries through enhanced operating practices and minor capital projects have been identified,” the company added. As a result, the non-binding letter of intent with Primero has been structured to incentivise achieving higher than budget recoveries.

Panoramic is working with Primero to complete a binding contract in the coming months, but ore processing is set to restart in November 2021, allowing ore stockpiles to build for around three months (100,000 t) to de-risk ore supply issues.

The process plant at Savannah was commissioned in August 2004 and comprises a single stage crusher, SAG mill, flotation, thickening and filtering stages to produce a bulk nickel, copper, cobalt concentrate. Over the 2004 to 2016 initial operating period, metallurgical recoveries averaged 86-89% for nickel, 94-97% for copper and 89-92% for cobalt. The plant was originally designed for a throughput of 750,000 t/y, but consistently outperformed the design specifications with rates exceeding 1 Mt on an annualised basis, Panoramic said.

First concentrate shipment from the Wyndham Port is targeted for December 2021.

Vale sells New Caledonia nickel-cobalt operations to consortium

Vale confirms that its Vale Canada Limited subsidiary has concluded the sale of its ownership interest in Vale Nouvelle-Calédonie SAS (VNC) to the Prony Resources New Caledonia consortium.

The consortium of investors, including Trafigura, comprises a majority and non-dilutable shareholding for New Caledonian interests, Vale said.

Eduardo Bartolomeo, CEO of Vale, said: “After several months of negotiations, I am pleased that we concluded our divestment of VNC, benefitting employees, New Caledonia and all its stakeholders. Vale is fully committed to this transaction. It meets the guarantees required at the financial, social and environmental levels and offers a sustainable future for the operations.”

Vale’s intent from the beginning of the divestment process was to withdraw from New Caledonia in an orderly and responsible manner, with the company saying the deal accomplishes that.

Vale previously tried to sell the operations to Australia-based New Century Resources, but the two parties failed to reach an agreement.

The deal provides the former VNC operations with a financial package totaling $1.1 billion, of which Vale Canada Limited is contributing $555 million to support the continuity of the operations. The financing of the “Pact for the Sustainable Development of the Deep South” will also be secured by Vale, it said.

The Pact for Sustainable Development of the Deep South was signed on September 27, 2008, between Vale New Caledonia and communities south of the “Grand” for a period of 30 years. It urges the industry to create and implement specific measures to support the development of the Deep South in a sustainable manner.

In addition to its financial commitment to continue operations, Vale will continue to have the right to a long-term nickel supply agreement for a proportion of the operation’s production, allowing it to, the company says, continue addressing the growing demand for nickel by the electric vehicle industry.

Mark Travers, Executive Vice President for Base Metals with Vale, said: “Along with the continuation of the Pact, the deal also allows the Lucy Project for dry storage of tailings to proceed. We want to acknowledge the time and effort of all stakeholders to achieving this deal, including the French State, and especially the employees of VNC for their trust and support through a lengthy and uncertain process.”

VNC is a producer of nickel and cobalt from the Goro mine. It also has a processing plant and a port.

Nickel 28 claims industry ‘first’ carbon neutral status

Nickel 28 Capital Corp has become what it believes is the first carbon neutral refined nickel-cobalt producer in the world through a transaction involving the purchase of 52,500 carbon offsets on the Verra Registry.

The carbon offsets will, it says, fully offset Nickel 28’s anticipated 2021 attributable greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the Ramu integrated nickel-cobalt mine and refinery in Papua New Guinea (pictured), an asset it owns 8.56% of.

Anthony Milewski, Chairman of Nickel 28, said: “We are incredibly excited to be one of the first, if not the first, producers of refined nickel and cobalt in the world to fully offset its carbon footprint.

“We feel strongly that each of us has an obligation to do our part personally and professionally to help stave off the negative impacts of climate change. As the world pivots to electric vehicles and other means of decarbonisation, it is imperative that the critical basic materials fuelling the transition have the minimum possible impact on the environment.”

On February 9, Nickel 28 announced it had completed an independent analysis on GHG intensity for the Ramu nickel-cobalt operation, confirming the operation is one of the lower GHG emitters in the nickel industry. Ramu’s average GHG intensity has been calculated at 15.6 t of carbon dioxide equivalent per tonne of nickel (15.6 tCO2e/t Ni) in mixed hydroxide product. This compared favourably with a nickel industry average GHG intensity of 36.6 tCO2e/t Ni as calculated by Wood Mackenzie, Nickel 28 said.

The company says it will continue to introduce greater environmental, social and governance transparency with respect to its assets in response to investor and industry trends.

“In addition to GHG emission reporting, Nickel 28 will be providing further clarity with respect to other key measures such as health and safety statistics, community investment, energy and water usage, rehabilitation, and land reclamation,” it said.

Nickel 28 currently holds an 8.56% joint-venture interest in the Ramu operation, with Ramu operated by the Metallurgical Corporation of China, which, along with its partners, owns an 85% interest in Ramu.

Ramu produced 33,659 t of contained nickel in mixed hydroxide product in 2020, compared with 32,722 t in 2019.

Jervois Mining looks to POX leaching to boost SMP nickel-cobalt refinery recoveries

Jervois Mining says it plans to integrate a pressure oxidation leach (POX) circuit into the São Miguel Paulista nickel-cobalt refinery in Brazil.

Jervois paid the first tranche towards its acquisition of SMP refinery in December after announcing plans to acquire the refinery in September 2020. The acquisition aims to complement its 100%-owned Idaho Cobalt Operations (ICO) in the US, transforming Jervois into a vertically integrated producer capable of refining cobalt and nickel.

The company appointed Australia-based Elemental Engineering to commence sysCAD modelling of the SMP refinery flowsheet for optimisation of product integration, including hydroxides and carbonate products, oxides and sulphide concentrates as part of a feasibility study (FS) for SMP’s restart.

As a result of Elemental’s work, Jervois has determined it shall integrate a POX leach circuit at the refinery.

“The inclusion of the POX autoclave offers a number of advantages compared to roasting concentrates, namely high metal recovery, low overall operating costs, enhanced ESG metrics due to lower emissions and energy usage, improved refined product purity and compact installation footprint on site,” the company said. “Preliminary POX sighter testwork at SGS Perth Western Australia, in conjunction with Elemental’s work, returned satisfactory results.”

While POX comes with a higher capital expense than roasting alternatives, it is a commercially demonstrated technology with low technical risk, allowing Jervois to leverage its recently appointed commercial team, Jervois said. A POX autoclave better compliments the refinery flowsheet, unlocks sunk capital by debottlenecking the existing leach capacity and adds significant flexibility to future refinery feed options, it added.

Jervois will process sulphide concentrate produced from ICO via this integrated POX leach circuit, with Jervois’ commercial team actively pursuing supply contracts for nickel and cobalt intermediate products. The introduction of a POX autoclave opens up greater capacity to leach other hydroxide and carbonate feed products to maximise existing refinery capacity, the company said.

Third-party concentrates can also be potentially introduced into the POX to process with Jervois’s ICO concentrates. Early discussions with potential third-party suppliers of sulphide-based concentrates have been positive, with the company now openly engaging with suppliers to optimise the sizing and economics of front-end pre-treatment.

As part of this, a decision has been made to reserve the maximum amount of copper capacity at SMP refinery for third parties. A consequence is that ICO construction is being advanced on the basis of the production of separated cobalt and copper concentrates. Jervois’s engineering advisers, DRA Global and M3 Engineering, completed the ICO BFS on both bulk and separated concentrate flowsheets, with construction plans being implemented based on the production of cobalt concentrate (containing gold and low in copper) and a copper concentrate. Commercial terms were obtained for both separated products as part of the BFS.

Jervois says it and Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio (CBA), the current owner of the SMP refinery, continue to work expeditiously towards closing Jervois’ acquisition of SMP.

Jervois plans a measured and staged approach to the refinery facility restart. Initial refurbishment works will be completed to progress the processing of intermediate hydroxide and carbonate products followed by the integration of the POX leach circuit to align with ICO commissioning, it said.

Jervois is in discussions with suitably qualified engineering contractors that have the appropriate nickel and cobalt refining experience, have a significant presence in Brazil, and have recently completed a POX and metals plant installation, to award the BFS for the refinery restart. This formal tender process is underway.

Nornickel backs responsible sourcing and production practices with blockchain agreement

Norilsk Nickel says it is joining the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN), an industry collaboration among members across the minerals supply chain using blockchain technology to support responsible sourcing and production practices from mine to market.

The move to join RSBN comes after Nornickel announced a broad strategy to use sophisticated digital technologies to create a customer-centric supply chain, which would include metal-backed tokens on the global Atomyze platform, a tokenisation platform that represents physical assets in digital form. Both the Atomyze and RSBN platforms were developed by leveraging Hyperledger technology, with IBM’s participation, the PGM and base metal miner said.

With Nornickel joining the RSBN, a series of its supply chains will be audited annually against key responsible sourcing requirements by RCS Global. The audits cover each stage of the company’s vertically integrated operations from mines in Russia to refineries in Finland and Russia.

Once audited against responsible sourcing requirements, each supply chain will be brought on to the RSBN and an “immutable audit data” trail will be captured on the platform, proving responsible nickel and cobalt production, its maintenance and its ethical provenance.

“Integration with RSBN is yet another step for Nornickel towards achieving greater business sustainability by creating a permanent record of minerals on the blockchain,” the company said.

At a later development stage, data such as upstream carbon intensity and other ESG attributes will be tracked, it added.

Built on IBM Blockchain technology and powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, the RSBN platform helps improve transparency in the mineral supply chain by providing a highly secure and immutable record that can be shared with specified members of the network, Nornickel says. Additionally, RCS Global Group assesses each participating entity both initially and annually against responsible sourcing requirements set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and those enshrined by key industry bodies, including the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

Anton Berlin, Nornickel’s Vice President, Sales and Distribution, said: “As one of the largest industry groups globally and the producer of the minerals essential for the transition to a carbon-free world, Nornickel is well aware of its responsibility to make the metals supply chains sustainable and highly transparent. We believe that the digital technologies of RSBN and Atomyze will create the path for Nornickel and its partners to participate in a circular value chain, tracing commodity flows in near real time as well as replacing cumbersome paperwork.”

RCS Global CEO, Dr Nicholas Garrett, added: “The RSBN has proven that responsible sourcing can be traced and documented using blockchain technology. Assuring Nornickel’s supply chains is another milestone engagement for RCS Global and Nornickel’s commitment to the RSBN and demonstrates momentum for blockchain backed responsible sourcing platform in the metals sector.”

Manish Chawla, Global Managing Director, Chemicals, Petroleum & Industrial Products, IBM, said: “Norilsk Nickel is an important addition to the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network and we look forward to their contributions to help advance the assurance for responsible sourcing and the group’s sustainability goals that have a direct impact on successful and accountable development for entire industries.”

RSBN is designed to be adopted across industries by original equipment manufacturers in automotive, electronics, aerospace and defence as well as their supply chain partners such as mining companies and battery manufacturers.

Canada Nickel investigates Crawford processing potential at Glencore’s Kidd concentrator

Canada Nickel Co says it has entered into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Glencore Canada that could see material mined from Canada Nickel’s Crawford nickel-cobalt sulphide project treated and processed at Glencore’s Kidd concentrator and metallurgical site in Timmins, Ontario.

Crawford, around 40 km north of Glencore’s operations, hosts a 657 Mt measured and indicated resource grading 0.26% Ni and 0.013% Co. It is currently the subject of a preliminary economic assessment (PEA).

The Kidd operations consisting of the Kidd metallurgical site and the Kidd mine. The concentrator is located on the property of the Kidd Metallurgical Site, 27 km east of Timmins, in the Townships of Hoyle and Matheson. Built in 1966 with numerous upgrades over the years, the concentrator currently processes metal ore to produce copper and zinc concentrates. The facility has a design rated capacity of 12,500 t/d and is fully permitted with water taking and discharge permits and thickened tailings storage. The site has incoming and outgoing rail service via Ontario Northland Railway.

Canada Nickel says it has completed an initial high-level assessment of the potential arrangements envisaged under the MoU and will proceed with a detailed study on the potential for upgrading excess capacity at the Kidd concentrator and/or using the existing infrastructure in place at the Kidd metallurgical site for milling and further processing the nickel-cobalt and magnetite concentrates that are expected to be produced from Crawford.

Mark Selby, Chair and CEO of Canada Nickel, said: “The opportunity to utilise the excess capacity and existing infrastructure at the Kidd Met Site provides the potential to allow a faster, simpler, smaller scale start-up of Crawford at a vastly lower capital cost while the company continues to permit and develop the much larger-scale project currently being contemplated.

“Given the potential for this significant change in the scope of the project start-up, the release of the PEA will be delayed until the end of March 2021 to allow this option, if successful, to be incorporated.”

This study is being led by Ausenco Engineering Canada Inc, which is also supporting the assessment of the Kidd Met Site facilities.

Canada Nickel’s plans include the development of a “Zero-Carbon footprint operation”. This considers the use of electric rope shovels and trolley trucks which utilise electricity, rather than diesel fuel, as a power source wherever possible, along with a natural mineral carbonation approach for the deposition of waste rock and tailings during mining to allow material to absorb CO2.

Metso Outotec to modernise Norilsk Nickel’s Nadezhda smelting line

Metso Outotec has been awarded a landmark contract by PJSC MMC Norilsk Nickel to modernise one of the company’s two existing smelting lines at their Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant in Norilsk, Russia.

The contract value is approximately €90 million ($110 million), and the order has been booked in Metso Outotec’s December quarter 2020 order intake.

Metso Outotec’s contract includes engineering and delivery of a nickel flash smelting furnace and a heat recovery boiler with related automation and advanced digital products.

Replacing the existing smelting line with the latest process technology and furnace structures will significantly increase the line’s capacity and availability, reduce metal losses and ease maintenance, according to the mining OEM. The new line will also allow for the easy connection and efficient operation with potential future sulphuric acid production and neutralisation projects. The delivery of the equipment will take place during the first half of 2022.

Sergey Dubovitsky, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Strategic Projects, Logistics & Procurement at Norilsk Nickel, said: “Metso Outotec is a long-term partner of Norilsk Nickel, supplying state-of-the-art equipment and technologies. Our cooperation allows us to solve the most important production and technological issues, such as increasing the reliability and efficiency of production.”

Jari Ålgars, President of Metso Outotec’s Metals business area, added: “Norilsk Nickel operates the world’s largest nickel and palladium deposit in Russia. We are very committed to our long partnership with Norilsk Nickel, and we are pleased to have been awarded the contract to modernise their smelting line at Nadezhda. Our unique process expertise and sustainable technologies enable the design and delivery of a world-class smelting process that meets today’s and future production requirements.”

Metso Outotec is a leading supplier of smelting technology, with about 40 operational smelting lines around the world. The company claims its Flash Smelting Process is the cleanest smelting method available, giving high recovery of metals with low investment and operating costs.

FQM awards Ravensthorpe nickel E&I package to SIMPEC

SIMPEC says it has been contracted by First Quantum Minerals (FQM) to deliver an electrical and instrumentation (E&I) package at the Ravensthorpe nickel operations’ Shoemaker-Levy project, in Western Australia.

This material, newly awarded contract is SIMPEC’s first with FQM, the company said.

The contract scope is for the E&I portion of work for Shoemaker-Levy, with the value expected to be around A$9 million ($6.8 million).

The works are planned to commence immediately and be completed by mid-2021, the WestStar Industrial subsidiary says.

With FQM restarting Ravensthorpe in early 2020, it has been expanding into a second stage nickel laterite deposit, Shoemaker-Levy, to provide the operation with a long-term life of around 30 years.

Glencore’s ‘net-zero emissions’ 2050 pathway includes use of BEVs

Glencore has become the latest mining major to plot a path to reach “net-zero emissions”, with a plan that includes the use of battery-electric vehicles at one of its underground operations in Canada and renewable power at its South Africa ferroalloy sites.

The company has committed to reducing its total emissions footprint – Scope 1, 2 and 3 – by 40% by 2035 compared with 2019 levels, with an ambition of achieving “net zero” on its total emissions footprint by 2050.

It says it will achieve this by managing its operational (Scope 1 and 2) footprint; reducing Scope 3 emissions through investing in its metals portfolio, reducing its coal production and supporting deployment of low-emission technologies; allocating capital to prioritise “transition metals”; collaborating to enable greater use of low-carbon metals and support progress towards technological solutions; supporting uptake and integration of “abatement”; using technology to improve resource use efficiency; and taking a transparent approach to its sustainability reporting.

Ivan Glasenberg, Glencore Chief Executive Officer, said: “A significant portion of Glencore’s earnings is derived from the metals and minerals that enable the transition to a low-carbon economy. As the world prioritises renewable technologies, battery storage and electric mobility, our business is well-positioned to meet the growing demand for the commodities that underpin these future-focused industries. Our ambition to be a net zero total emissions company by 2050 reflects our commitment to contribute to the global effort to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Getting down to specifics, Glencore, in a supporting presentation, singled out its ferroalloys business. These operations, in South Africa, represent the highest Scope 1 and 2 emitting industrial business within Glencore.

The company said it had set a specific target of a 10% reduction of its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025 based on a 2016 baseline as part of the “broader Glencore commitment”.

It said the business was currently investigating the feasibility of working with a third-party independent power purchaser for the installation and supply of around 400 MW of renewable power, with the potential to reduce Scope 2 emission by some 1.17 Mt/y.

Glencore said its Rhovan open-pit mine and smelter complex, which mainly produces ferrovanadium and vanadium pentoxide, was, furthermore, working on a potential community involvement project to install a solar farm on-site that will deliver 11 MW for nearly nine hours a day at 80% efficiency.

“The ferroalloys business is also investigating a number of projects to convert waste gas into power at its smelters,” it added. This most likely includes the work it is carrying out with Swedish Stirling and its container-based PWR BLOK 400-F energy recycling solutions.

Looking to the uptake of new technologies to speed up its decarbonisation transition, Glencore referenced its Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations, in Canada, and, specifically, its Onaping Depth project.

This deep nickel-copper mine includes the construction of a winze from the 1,200 m level laterally off the workings of Craig mine to access some 14 Mt of ore 2,500 m from surface. Currently under development, it has been designed to utilise state of the art battery-electric mobile mining equipment, maximised real-time remote operation, and monitoring and management utilising advanced Wi-Fi systems, Glencore said.

The benefits of using such technology include the elimination of diesel emissions and the reduction of noise pollution.

“The design includes the use of innovative ventilation technology, with cooling systems designed to be energy efficient, while coping with ambient rock temperatures that can reach 400°C at depth,” Glencore said.

On battery-electric vehicle technology, specifically, the company said it expects these zero-emission vehicles to play an increasingly important role in underground operations. It added: “going forward, new mines will look to utilise this technology”.

Glencore previously tested a proof-of-concept battery-electric vehicle trial based on the Cat R1300G LHD at one of its Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations’ underground mines, which could have helped form the basis for the application of this technology at Onaping Depth.

After this trial, the company said: “Through using electric vehicles, Onaping Depth is expected to reduce its energy usage by 44% for ventilation systems and by 30% for cooling equipment, compared to an equivalent diesel-fuelled operation.

“Using EVs, Sudbury INO’s new mine will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 44% and deliver considerable cost savings through reduced fuel and energy usage.”

Ivanplats eyes Platreef project fast track following Shaft 1 sinking work

An integrated development plan (IDP) on the Platreef palladium, platinum, rhodium, nickel, copper and gold project in South Africa has shown the potential to fast-track the development into production.

Consisting of an updated feasibility study and a preliminary economic assessment, the IDP marks an “important step in our vision of building and operating the world’s next great precious metals mine, together with our local community and Japanese partners”, Ivanhoe Mines Co-Chair, Robert Friedland, said.

Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats. The South Africa beneficiaries of the approved broad-based, black economic empowerment structure have a 26% stake in the project, with the remaining 10% owned by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU Corporation, Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation, and Japan Gas Corporation.

The Platreef 2020 feasibility study builds on the results of the 2017 feasibility study and is based on an unchanged mineral reserve of 125 Mt at 4.4 g/t 3PGE+Au, project designs for mining, and plant and infrastructure as in the 2017 study; except with an increased production rate from 4 Mt/y to 4.4 Mt/y, in two modules of 2.2 Mt/y, for annual production of more than 500,000 oz of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold; plus more than 35 MIb of nickel and copper.

The 2020 feasibility study includes an updated production schedule based on the current project status, costs and economic assumptions, with the schedule for the latest study driven by the sinking of the project’s second, larger shaft (Shaft 2), where early works have commenced. The 2020 study envisions Shaft 2 equipped for hoisting in 2025, allowing for first concentrate production in the latter half of the year. The initial capital cost for the Platreef 2020 feasibility study is estimated at $1.4 billion.

The Platreef IDP also includes the Platreef 2020 preliminary economic assessment, which is an alternate, phased development plan that fast-tracks Platreef into production. The plan uses the project’s first shaft (Shaft 1) for initial hoisting and mine development, with 825,000 t of annual total rock hoisting capacity, of which 125,000 t is allocated for development rock. The alternate plan envisions building an initial concentrator with a capacity of 770,000 t/y, and could produce first concentrate in mid-2024.

“The recently-completed sinking of Shaft 1 has created the opportunity to access early, high-grade tonnes in this scenario,” the company said. “While the 700,000 t/y initial mine is being operated using Shaft 1, there would be opportunities to refine the timing of subsequent phases of expanded production, which is driven by the sinking of Shaft 2.”

Once completed, two 2.2 Mt/y concentrator modules would be commissioned, and the initial concentrator would be ramped up to its full capacity of 770,000 t/y; increasing the steady-state production to 5.2 Mt/y for annual production of more than 600,000 oz of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold, plus over 40 million pounds of nickel and copper. The initial capital cost for 700,000 t/y under the Platreef 2020 assessment is estimated at $390 million – substantially lower than the Platreef 2020 feasibility study that requires Shaft 2 for first production.

Detailed engineering has commenced on the mine design, 770,000 t/y concentrator and associated infrastructure for the phased development plan, which will be incorporated into an updated feasibility study in 2021, Ivanhoe said. The Shaft 1 changeover will take place simultaneously in preparation for permanent hoisting by early 2022. The budget for 2021 is $59 million, which includes $10 million for commencement of the construction of the headframe to the collar of Shaft 2.

“The Platreef IDP reflects the first phase of development for the Platreef Mine,” the company said. “It is designed to establish an operating platform to support potential future expansions to 12 Mt/y and beyond, as demonstrated in previous studies, which would position Platreef among the largest platinum-group metals producing mines in the world, producing in excess of 1.1 Moz of palladium, platinum, rhodium and gold per year.”

Friedland said: “The thick and flat-lying nature of the high-grade mineralisation of Platreef’s Flatreef deposit will accommodate the use of mechanised and state-of-the-art, automated mining techniques; allowing us to efficiently and safely bring material to surface to produce precious metals vital to a proliferation of modern technologies.”

Marna Cloete, Ivanhoe’s President and CFO, said approximately 60% of the mine’s tailings will be sent back underground to fill mined-out voids, and the remainder will be treated using sustainable, dry-stacking technology.

Mining zones in the current Platreef mine plan occur at depths ranging from around 700-1,200 m below surface. Once expanded mine production is achieved, primary access to the mine will be by way of a 1,104-m-deep, 10-m-diameter production shaft (Shaft 2). Secondary access to the mine will be via the 996-m-deep, 7.25-m-diameter ventilation shaft (Shaft 1) that recently has been sunk to its final depth. During mine production, both shafts also will serve as ventilation intakes. Three additional ventilation exhaust raises (Ventilation Raise 1, 2, and 3) are planned to achieve steady-state production.

Mining methods included in the studies are longhole stoping and drift-and-fill. Each method will use cemented backfill for maximum ore extraction. The production plans in both the PEA’s initial five-year drift-and-fill mining operation off of Shaft 1 and the larger feasibility study expansion are focused on maximising higher-grade areas, which was achieved through optimisation based on stope locations, stope grades, mining method, and zone productivities. The orebody was targeted to recover around 125 Mt at the highest net smelter return.

The ore will be hauled from the stopes to a series of internal ore passes and fed to the bottom of Shaft 2, where it will be crushed and hoisted to surface.

Comminution and flotation test work has indicated that the optimum grind for beneficiation is 80% passing 75 micrometres. Platreef ore is classified as being ‘hard’ to ‘very hard’ and thus not suitable for semi-autogenous grinding; a multi-stage crushing and ball-milling circuit has been selected as the preferred size reduction route, Ivanhoe said.

Improved flotation performance has been achieved in test work using high-chrome grinding media as opposed to carbon steel media. The inclusion of a split-cleaner flotation circuit configuration, in which the fast-floating fraction is treated in a cleaner circuit separate from the medium- and slow-floating fractions, resulted in improved PGE, copper and nickel recoveries and concentrate grades.

A two-phased development approach was used for the flowsheet design comprising a common three-stage crushing circuit, feeding crushed material to milling-flotation modules. Flotation is followed by a common concentrate thickening, concentrate filtration, tailings disposal and tailings-handling facility. The phased approach allows for increased processing flexibility and introduces process redundancy while allowing for phasing of capital and mine ramp-up, the company said.

To further evaluate optimisation opportunities and confirm additional detail design parameters, a mini pilot plant test work program is proposed and will be undertaken as part of the project implementation phase.

The proposed tailings storage facility (TSF) will be developed as a dry stack TSF with an estimated operating life of 32 years. During this time, some 55.4 Mt of tailings will be stored within the dry stack TSF, with the remainder of the tailings to be used as backfill in the underground mine. The dry stack TSF design also caters for an 8 Mt/y ramp-up in production to be explored in future studies.

The dry stack TSF is compliant in terms of required tonnage profile production split between the backfill requirement and dry stack TSF of 35% on average, but is conservatively designed for 40% of non-ore material reporting to the TSF.

Since the Platreef 2017 FS, a hybrid paddock deposition methodology was proposed; however, Ivanplats has decided to change the TSF deposition methodology from upstream design to dry stacking in the Platreef 2020 studies.

Following a study undertaken by Golder Associates Africa in December 2016, it was concluded that stacked tailings storage facilities are deemed to be safer in that there is no hydraulic deposition, hence the risk will be minimal to flood the surrounding areas with tailings in the unlikely event of a catastrophic failure.

“Stacked tailing storage facilities are more water efficient in that the majority of water in the tailings is captured in the dewatering plant, pumped directly back to the concentrator and re-used within the process,” the company said.

The stacked facility will comprise a starter dam constructed primarily of rock fill, engineered tailings, nominally compacted tailings, and random fill. Tailings will be delivered to the dewatering plant situated at the stacking facility using the same pumping systems from the processing plant. Dried tailings will be delivered to the stacking facility using load and haul transportation with trucks from the dewatering plant.

Aside from the rock fill in the starter dam and drainage elements, which include a return water dam, the facility will be developed using dewatered tailings. The infrastructure will have to be in place upon start-up.

For the Platreef 2020 PEA development scenario, it is envisaged to use the approved rock dump footprint within the immediate Platreef mine and concentrator areas, as a dry stacking tailings facility for the initial 700,000 t/y mine. Golder Associates currently is performing the design work to apply for the relevant licences and/or amendments to the existing authorisations.