Kropz, an emerging Africa-focused phosphate developer, has introduced first ore to its plant at the Elandsfontein mine, in the Western Cape of South Africa in what it says is a major milestone.
Now that ore has been introduced to the plant, the team is ensuring all the front end circuits are balanced and running stably. The flotation circuits will then be commissioned and the reagents added in due course for the production of the first concentrate. Commissioning activities are expected to transition into full scale ramp-up of the mining and beneficiation plant over the coming six months.
Mining activities at Elandsfontein commenced in October 2021, and significant volumes of ore are available to support the commissioning ramp-up, according to the company.
Elandsfontein, 74% owned by Kropz, hosts South Africa’s second-largest phosphate deposit, according to the company.
Kropz purchased the Elandsfontein property in 2010, developing an open-pit mining operation and on-site processing facility with a production capacity of 1 Mt/y on site. Some $160 million has been invested in project development, mine, processing plant and construction of associated infrastructure. Rock phosphate from the open-pit mine will be stockpiled, before passing to the milling and classification circuit in the processing plant where it is prepared for flotation. Concentrate and tailings streams are thickened and filtered. The concentrate is then dried and stored for dispatch to port.
Kropz CEO, Mark Summers, said: “The introduction of ore to the processing plant reflects the successful culmination of the construction phase and signals the commencement of the next chapter in the company’s development. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the tireless efforts of all of those involved in reaching this milestone safely and on time, despite the many challenges that the past two years have presented.”
Transnet has provided the company with a draft port access agreement to support the long-term export of Elandsfontein’s phosphate rock through the port of Saldanha. The contract is now being finalised between the parties. First phosphate rock ore exports from Elandsfontein are expected in the March quarter of 2022.
It is anticipated that the imported reagents required for the recovery of phosphate concentrate will be delivered this month, however, the supply chain situation remains a challenge, with the recent force majeure declared by Transnet Port Terminals in Cape Town on December 21, presenting further risk to the project, Kropz said. The company is investigating options to off-load containers at alternative ports and transport the commodities to the mine site by road to arrive in early January 2022.