Modern Mining

In its second quarter report (to 30 June 2017), ASX-listed Syrah Resources says that its Balama graphite project in northern Mozambique was 90 % complete at the end of the quarter with commissioning activities underway.

It notes, however, that subsequent delays in the construction completion of the processing plant have led to a delay in the commencement of production from late August into October and to an increase in the construction budget (including contingency) to US$205 million from US$200 million.

The Balama processing plant photographed in June this yearThe Balama processing plant photographed in June this year (photo: Syrah Resources).

According to Syrah, the slower than planned completion of structural steel erection, piping installation and electrical work in the processing plant (particularly in the flotation and filtration areas) can be attributed to a number of factors, including contractor productivity and commitment to scheduled completion dates. It also cites some specific material shortages of vendor related equipment and piping materials, minor fabrication, design and installation issues, requiring re-work, and reduced power availability delaying commissioning.

Commissioning activities commenced in May 2017 utilising low voltage generator capacity onsite and the planned usage of 1 000 kVA portable generator from early July. On-site commissioning of the power station was dependent on the use of a load bank and sufficient load being available from the processing plant. Unfortunately, says Syrah, a truck transporting both the generator and the load bank was involved in an accident en route from South Africa resulting in both items needing to be replaced. The replacement load bank and generator arrived on site at the end of July and have now been installed

Syrah says that management and supervision continue to give the highest priority to recovering lost time and have been working around the clock with contractors to implement several initiatives to ensure delivery of the project. The company notes that, as the delay is relatively short and the initial planned production volumes are modest, it does not anticipate any material impact on total planned production for the 12-month period commencing August

The operations team organisational structure is established and staffed, and the teams are completing training and preparation for operation of the processing plant. The mining contractor is established and – says Syrah – illustrating excellent operational performance with initial mine development and the stockpiling of mineralised ore onto the ROM stockpile complete, ready for production. The mining technical support team continues to refine the mine planning model.

Balama will be a simple, low strip ratio, open-pit operation. Processing will utilise conventional processes including crushing, grinding, flotation, filtration, drying, screening and bagging. The processing rate is 2 Mt/a with the nameplate capacity being 380 000 tonnes of graphite concentrate per annum.

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Title: Editor
Name: Arthur Tassell
Email: mining@crown.co.za
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