Tag Archives: Platinum

Concor Opencast Mining provides ‘seamless transition’ at Anglo’s Mogalakwena PGM mine

Contractor Concor Opencast Mining says it is helping Anglo American Platinum’s Mogalakwena open-pit platinum group metals (PGM) mine team, in South Africa, boost annual production.

This growth can be attributed to various optimisation efforts on site at the largest open-pit PGM mine in the world, as well as the steady performance of its Zwartfontein pit, which Concor Opencast Mining is in charge of, the contractor said.

The majority of Mogalakwena’s production originates from the Central, North and South pits, supplemented further by the nearby Zwartfontein pit. Together these deposits should deliver on Anglo American Platinum’s record-breaking production target of 1.22 Moz of PGMs for 2019, Concor said.

While the three main production pits are operated by the mine’s personnel, it relies on a contractor for the smaller Zwartfontein pit, which requires an earthmoving fleet suited to its smaller size and production targets. Despite its size, it is an important contributor to Mogalakwena’s annual performance, Concor said.

A year and nine months ago, the pit underwent a significant transition that saw Concor secure the load and haul contract from Anglo’s previous operator.

“Because the mine required a smooth changeover with minimal disruption to production, we took over most of the previous contractor’s fleet, as well as its entire workforce,” Concor Opencast Mining’s Zwartfontein contracts manager, Donald Sisiya, said.

Having completed work at Mogalakwena’s tailings storage facility in the past, Concor Opencast Mining brought to the project not only an existing relationship with the mine but its solid reputation for mining open-pit, hard-rock PGM operations in South Africa, the company said.

Sisaya continued: “Combined with our cost competitive offer, the mine placed its faith in our ability to deliver a seamless transition and then to further optimise production without disrupting day-to-day running during the changeover period.”

Concor Opencast Mining’s agreement at Zwartfontein comprises a three-year load and haul contract, as of December 1, 2017. Over this period, it must move 32.4 Mt of material and, more specifically, 12 Mt of ore and 20 Mt of waste material.

With an effective change management structure in place, Concor Opencast Mining has improved the pit’s production performance, having revised the shift structure for all plus-100 of its employees, the company said.

It has also invested significant capital into upgrading most of the old earthmoving equipment on site which had not been properly maintained, according to Concor.

“We have over recent months added three 130 ton (118 t) excavators to the pit, over and above introducing 10 new 100 t (91 t) trucks as well,” Sisiya states.

Moving forward, Concor Opencast Mining has production targets to meet by the end of the year and Sisiya is confident of achieving these: “Taking over an existing contract while ensuring minimal impact to the employees and the production targets is a success story for the company which highlights our strong capabilities in the open-cast mining space.”

Master Drilling lays groundwork for record breaking hole

Master Drilling is set to break a drilling world record having recently commenced collaring for a 1,420 m pilot hole at a South Africa platinum mine.

The 4.6 m diameter hole is being sunk as part of an expansion project at the mine. It will help lead to the development of a rock hoisting shaft equipped with steelwork, according to Master Drilling.

Master Drilling said it was using its RD8 raisebore rig for the project. This rig, which has been operational since 2015 and used at various mine sites across South Africa, is capable of drilling 8.5 m in diameter and over 1,500 m deep, the company added.

The current construction schedule at the mine indicates the holing of the pilot during the first week of May 2020, some eight months from the collaring date.

The previous longest pilot drilled to date was 1,180 m, according to the company.

SPH Kundalila crushing it at Pilanesberg platinum mine

Raubex Group subsidiary SPH Kundalila has recently seen its contract expand at the Pilanesberg platinum mine on South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.

The two already have a nine-year relationship to fall back on, with SPH Kundalila’s primary contract at Pilanesberg entailing managing the mine’s primary crushing requirements. This includes crushing all run of mine (ROM) material from the mine before it is transported to the concentrator.

Pilanesberg, which has many outsourced contractors, recently celebrated 10 years of production excellence at the mine.

The nine-year relationship between Pilanesberg and SPH Kundalila can be attributed to the trust and partnership the company has built with the mine but also its high level technical skills set, according to the contractor.

SPH Kundalila Production Manager, Walter Eriksen, said: “With our 260 people on site, 75% from the local Bakgatla tribe, we operate four 63 t mobile crushing machines on the outskirts of the pit which have a combined design capacity of 380,000 t/mth.

“Our crushers have been replaced over the years as the mine’s production requirements have grown. Throughout this process we have maintained our machines’ high availability thanks to an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the mine’s production requirements.

“To ensure our performance further, we have established on-site technical support infrastructure including a workshop and plus-40 workshop crew. This facility enables us to conduct preventative maintenance equipment routines as well as full services and minor repairs which results in minimal downtime.”

The mine has expanded SPH Kundalila’s work on site of late, which now includes materials handling services delivered from its fleet of wheel loaders, dump trucks and tippers. In June 2018, the company’s workload expanded even further to include loading and hauling waste material from the pit.

SPH Kundalila Pit Manager, Danie de Jager, said: “Since June of last year we have successfully been moving waste material from the northern side of the pit. We have also steadily grown our volumes which started at 145,000 t/mth to around 500,000 t/mth. Through this service we are giving the mine quick and easy access to the reef.”

SPH Kundalila’s earthmoving fleet comprises two excavators, two bulldozers and eight 45 t dump trucks carefully selected to allow accurate waste-only removal.

SPH Kundalila Site Manager, Pieter Boonzaier, said: “Our service delivery, technical capability and ongoing dedication to helping Pilanesberg platinum mine meet its 150,000 oz per annum of PGM production requirements is a proud achievement for SPH Kundalila and we hope to continue working with the mine as its explores new and exciting chapters of its life.”

Anglo Platinum and Platinum Group Metals look downstream with Lion Battery Technologies JV

Anglo American Platinum and Platinum Group Metals Ltd have launched a new venture, Lion Battery Technologies Inc, to, they say, accelerate the development of next-generation battery technology using platinum and palladium.

This is all geared towards creating additional demand for platinum and palladium in the battery technology space.

The new Lion venture has entered into an agreement with Florida International University to further advance a research program that uses platinum and palladium to unlock the potential of lithium air and lithium sulphur battery chemistries to increase their discharge capacities and cyclability, the companies said. As part of this, Lion will have exclusive rights to all intellectual property developed and will lead all commercialisation efforts. “Lion is also currently reviewing several additional and complementary opportunities focused on developing next-generation battery technology using platinum and palladium.”

Thanks to considerably higher energy density, lithium oxygen and lithium sulphur batteries can perform better, by orders of magnitude, than the best-in-class lithium-ion batteries currently on the market or under development, according to the two companies. “This new generation of lightweight, powerful batteries has the potential to grow to scale on the back of the attractiveness of battery electric vehicles and the use of lithium batteries in other applications beyond mobility.”

Benny Oeyen, Executive Head of Market Development at Anglo American Platinum, said: “This exciting early-stage technology aligns with our broader strategy to bring new technologies to market that will help us secure future demand for the platinum group metals we mine and pave the way to a more sustainable energy future. Our commitment to market development is underscored by our relationship with AP Ventures, of which we are a cornerstone investor and who is a potential investor in this technology as it matures.”

Michael Jones, CEO of Platinum Group Metals Ltd, commented: “Developing new applications for platinum group metals is key to ensuring long-term sustainable demand, demand which will be important to the future success of our large-scale Waterberg palladium and platinum mining project, in South Africa.”

Weir’s Warman AHF slurry pumps cut through the froth in South Africa

Weir Minerals’ Warman® AHF pumps have been put to the test at two mines in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, the company said.

The pumps were tasked with pumping frothy, high density and viscous slurries at the platinum and phosphate mines.

Weir said: “Handling froth in some process circuits can be very challenging, as froth will air-bind a conventional slurry pump. In froth applications, the Warman AHF inducer impeller solves this problem, producing far less surging. The inducer impeller and oversized inlet enhance the movement of the froth, high density or viscous slurries into the impeller, facilitating effective transportation.

“In addition, its higher efficiencies mean a smaller pump will deliver the required results.”

At the platinum operation, a Warman AHF 2 pump was commissioned in early 2016. It has met the specified flow rate of 40 m3/h with no pump-related stoppages, repairs or replacements, according to Weir.

A 12-month trial period showed the unit saved the mine over R200,000 ($14,153) when compared with the cost of the competitor pump installed previously. Based on this, the mine replaced another eight competitor products with Warman AHF pumps, Weir said. It has approved the Warman AHF 3 pumps as standard for all frothy applications at the plant’s first flotation section, and Warman AHF 2 pumps for the second flotation section, the company added.

The Warman AHF pumps – with Hi Seal® expeller (dry gland) design – were also tested in a viscous slurry application at the phosphate mine in Limpopo for six months. According to Weir, they demonstrated they could continuously pump the high-density viscous underflow slurry at relative densities above 1.9. “As a result, the customer purchased the pump and began upgrading all the remaining concentrate thickener underflow pumps to the Warman AHF pump technology,” Weir said.

This reduced the plant’s operational costs significantly, decreased dewatering and concentrate moisture extraction operations, improved filtration efficiency and increased concentrate throughput to the dryers, according to Weir. The Warman AHF pump also extended the underflow pumping boundaries and the overall reliability of the thickener underflow pumping system.

“Other field and laboratory tests have proven that the Warman AHF pump has largely overcome the problem of high-density viscous underflow slurries, with negligible effects on head at slurry yield stresses up to 200 Pa,” the company said.

Jacques Pretorius, Weir Minerals Africa’s Pump Product Development Specialist, said the approach to solving any thickener underflow pumping problem must be based on a thorough understanding of the entire application, the mineralogy and rheological behaviour of the slurry.

“Successful thickener underflow pumping projects are only achievable through involving a team of thickener engineers, pumping engineers and rheological consultants,” he said. “Weir Minerals’ pump trial campaigns confirm the successful operability of the Warman AHF pumps in viscous slurry applications.”

FLSmidth takes nextSTEP in flotation technology at South Africa platinum mine

FLSmidth’s innovative nextSTEP™ rotor and stator flotation technology has proven itself at a large platinum mine in South Africa, the mineral processing company says.

According to Ricus van Reenen, Regional Product Line Manager – Separation at FLSmidth, the nextSTEP rotor and stator combination has been at work for over a year at the mine, achieving positive results.

“The customer has achieved significantly lower power consumption on the full-scale retrofits we installed early in 2018,” van Reenen says. “The more efficient design allows the same or higher slurry circulation at reduced rotor speed, leading to lower power draw.”

The retrofits have been applied to both primary and secondary flotation applications, where energy savings of over 10% have been achieved, according to FLSmidth.

Years of research and development have been invested in the nextSTEP technology, which was originally launched in 2015, the company says. Among the key design elements are the addition of slots to the stator, adjustments in the rotor profile and a parallel distance between the rotor and stator.

“Energy dissipation is now more uniform than in traditional forced-air designs,” van Reenen says. “This means a more even wear pattern across the rotor and stator, and therefore longer intervals between maintenance.”

In the South Africa installations, the wear on the rotors and stators has been minimal after more than a year’s operation, the company says. In one flotation cell, the equipment has been operational for 15 months. The thickness of the rotor has reduced from 65 mm to only 60 mm, and the stator from 75 mm to 70 mm. After 13 months of operation in the second installation, the wear is even less, with the rotor’s thickness having reduced from 65 mm to 63 mm and the stator going from 75 mm to 73 mm.

van Reenen highlighted that there have been other benefits experienced by South Africa users of the new technology. Among these has been 16-18% less blower air usage, with more concentrated bubble formation.

“Better turbulence energy dissipation around the rotor and stator region, with its related finer bubble size distribution, creates more surface area for bubble-particle attachment,” van Reenen says. “This has delivered more froth and a higher mass pull on our local units.”

The success of the nextSTEP technology has led to further retrofits being planned in South Africa, in line with FLSmidth’s drive to promote mines’ productivity and performance. Van Reenen says the intensive R&D process continues apace and is not just in the rotor and stator design but also includes areas such as smart control systems and continued digitalisation of process solutions.

Pre-sink of Shaft 2 at Ivanhoe’s Platreef underground project months away

In a review of exploration and development activities in 2018, Ivanhoe Mines has gone into some detail on developments at Shaft 2 at the Platreef PGM-nickel-copper-gold project on the northern limb of South Africa’s Bushveld Complex.

This follows a project update issued just after the Mining Indaba event in February.

Shaft 1, expected to reach its final depth of 982 m below surface in early 2020, will ultimately become the primary ventilation shaft during the project’s initial 4 Mt/y production case, but Shaft 2, around 100 m northeast of Shaft 1, will provide primary access to the mining zones.

Ivanhoe said Shaft 2 will have an internal diameter of 10 m, will be lined with concrete and sunk to a planned, final depth of more than 1,104 m below surface.

It will be equipped with two 40-t rock-hoisting skips capable of hoisting a total of 6 Mt/y of ore – the single largest hoisting capacity at any mine in Africa. The headgear for the permanent hoisting facility was designed by South Africa-based Murray & Roberts Cementation.

Ivanhoe said nine blasts were successfully completed in 2018 enabling the excavation of Shaft 2’s box cut to a depth of approximately 29 m below surface and the construction of the concrete hitch (shaft collar foundation) for the 103-m-tall concrete headgear (preparations pictured here) that will house the shaft’s permanent hoisting facilities and support the shaft collar.

Excavation of the box cut and construction of the hitch foundation is expected to be completed in the June quarter, enabling the beginning of the pre-sink, that will extend 84 m below surface, it said.

In July 2017, Ivanhoe, which indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats, issued an independent, definitive feasibility study (DFS) for Platreef covering the first phase of production at an initial mining rate of 4 Mt/y. The DFS estimated Platreef’s initial, average annual production rate would be 476,000 oz of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold, plus 21 MIb (9,525 t) of nickel and 13 MIb (5,897 t) of copper.

Eurasia and Uralmetmash agree on West Kytlim PGM-gold mining contract

Eurasia Mining has signed a mining contract for the 2019 season at its West Kytlim platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium and gold mine in the Ural mountains of Russia.

Kosvinsky Kamen (KK), Eurasia’s subsidiary, and Uralmetmash (formerly Techstroy) have signed a pact that will see the latter carry out mining of platinum group metals and gold at West Kytlim.
Mining at West Kytlim is seasonal as the alluvial process relies heavily on running water. Work normally commences as the snow melts on site in late March or early April and proceeds until November.

The directors of Techstroy, the contractor employed at the West Kytlim mine for the 2018 season which achieved production well in excess of target (a total of 165 kg raw platinum against a targeted 100 kg), registered a new company, Uralmetmash, as a special purpose vehicle to focus on the West Kytlim.

Eurasia said the roles and responsibilities of each of the parties shall remain largely as before, with Uralmetmash responsible for pit development, mining, ore trucking, washing and disintegration, and KK responsible for concentrate upgrade, shipment of mine product and distribution of metal sales revenues.

The London-listed mining company said Uralmetmash intended to move on site immediately to prepare for mining, to include stripping of overburden and stockpiling of ore in preparation for washing, which can commence once the seasonal thaw is underway. The thaw can be expected sometime in April 2019.

The work will continue initially at the Kluchiki area, where work ended on schedule in November.

As part of the deal with Uralmetmash, the platinum revenues will be split on a 65%/35% basis, in favour of the contractor.

In the meantime, the refinery contract between KK and the Urals precious metal refinery has also been renegotiated to include an extra percent payment on the LME platinum prices (now at 98% LME, from 97% in 2018).

Eurasia Mining Executive Chairman, Christian Schaffalitzky, said: “We are pleased to be working again with the team that proved so effective during 2018. They were a very efficient operator last year, with a zero accident record, and financially motivated to develop the asset in a sensible manner.

“Furthermore, we are looking at ways to improve metal recoveries, based on the measured efficiency of the existing process flowsheet. We look forward to updating shareholders on progress and also our longer term development strategy for the West Kytlim reserves and resources before the season commences.”

Eurasia and KK personnel continue to work on an enlarged exploration programme for West Kytlim, to include the recently approved Flanks exploration licence and ensure adequate reserves are available for future mining seasons.

Work on analysis of the previous mining season’s performance has commenced and a sampling programme has been outlined for the tailings of the 2018 season. This information will be inputted to proposed modifications to the current circuit, with the possible addition of a jig to recover finer raw platinum fractions. The addition of a hopper to better control the loading of gravels to the front of the circuit, and achieve a more constant flow of material into the trommel, is also expected to improve recoveries during the 2019 season.

Kwatani registers global mining demand for vibrating equipment

Kwatani’s vibrating screens and feeders are continuing to find a market in the mining industry, with a number of orders recently secured from diamond, coal, zinc and platinum operations.

The company’s custom engineered products are now in some of the world’s largest mines, and many customers have standardised on their screens to ensure lowest cost of ownership and high performance, according to General Manager, Sales and Service, Jan Schoepflin.

“While our base and core market are in Africa, the global demand for Kwatani products has grown rapidly. A leading diamond mining company in Russia is very pleased with Kwatani screens at their newest operation and specified Kwatani for future projects,” Schoepflin says.

In another order from a large diamond operation, this time in South Africa, the customer replaced the last of its competitor screens with a Kwatani unit. Schoepflin says this is because it has enjoyed years without unplanned stoppages by using Kwatani screens.

At a local brownfield diamond expansion project, the company’s multi-slope banana screens were matched to the available plant footprint, raising throughput from 250 t/h to 500 t/h and, later, breaking the mine’s tonnage record.

“While screening in heavy minerals is Kwatani’s stronghold, the company has moved extensively into coal, supplying the country’s (South Africa’s) leading coal producer with no fewer than 45 items of large screening equipment, including out-sized 4.3-m-wide units,” the company said.

Other recent coal-related orders included run-of-mine screens for a medium-sized coal mine in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Again, competitor equipment was replaced by custom designed screens with optimised deck angles, which significantly increased tonnage, according to the company.

“The positive results achieved with the Kwatani equipment also led to additional orders for the mine’s expansion,” Kwatani said.

For world largest zinc mine, Kwatani was contracted to supply all the screens, while, at Africa’s largest iron ore mine, the company recently completed two projects, renewing existing equipment with updated solutions and replacing 24 items of competitor equipment.

“The platinum sector is also keeping Kwatani busy, not just in South Africa but over the border in Zimbabwe too,” Kwatani says. A recent turnkey solution focused on platinum by-product chromite, where the company supplied a complete solution which included feeder, dryer and screen to treat chromite of 45 micron size at 15 t/h.

Schoepflin said: “Our screens have been a popular choice for modular gold plants going to West Africa as well as Central and South America. We also supplied to two of Africa’s largest copper producers in Zambia, to a tanzanite producer in Tanzania, and repeat orders to a manganese mine in Ghana.”

Anglo American’s OiS improving employee safety at Rustenburg base metal refinery

Anglo American’s real-time data analytics platform, Operational Intelligence Suite (OiS), is helping its platinum subsidiary tackle potential health hazards at the Rustenburg base metals refinery in South Africa.

The company’s Occupational Health and Information Management teams worked in partnership to develop OiS, which is able to interrogate data feeds, manual uploads and events, Anglo said.

“The diagnostic results generated by the platform helps users make the right decision, at speed, when things go wrong, in terms of performance and health and safety at our mine sites.”

The information can then be used to do a “deep dive” analysis, to get to the root cause of problems and prevent repeat occurrences.

Cas Badenhorst, Anglo’s Occupational Health and Hygiene lead, said the company developed the product in response to a growing need in the business.

“Some of our key stakeholders needed a tool that would allow them to evaluate workplace and external environments and impacts on communities as well as monitor control performance,” he said.

The key difference between Anglo’s OiS system and other, off-the-shelf, products is its ability to receive, record, and analyse data such as air flow, gas levels etc. from multiple sources on to a single platform that also has analytical and reporting capabilities, Anglo said.

OiS is already in place at several of Anglo’s businesses including subsidiary Anglo American Platinum, where potential exposure to health hazards is being reduced by real-time monitoring of dust, noise, and gases.

“In fact, application of the OiS platform has assisted the Rustenburg base metals refinery (RBMR) team to achieve significant reductions in personal exposures to airborne pollutants within 12 months by optimising control measures,” Anglo said.

When asked about the value contribution of the OiS platform, RBMR General Manager Fortune Mashimbye said: “OiS informs me daily of health-related control performance and supplies me with data and information, so I can act on substandard conditions. Having access to real-time information on workplace conditions and control status empowers me and my team to actively protect the health of the RBMR employees.”

The system is currently being introduced at Anglo’s Kumba Iron Ore business, its Coal South Africa company and Copper division’s Chagres site in Chile. Further roll-outs are planned for Brazil and Botswana in 2019, the company said.

“The next phase of development will include predictive analysis that could, potentially, prevent control failures and health and safety incidents from happening,” Anglo said.

The system was recognised at the 2018 USA National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Awards, where it took the award for Technology Innovation in Health and Safety.