Modern Mining: Featured News

AIM-quoted Savannah Resources has commenced construction of the pilot plant for its bulk metallurgical test work programme at the Mutamba mineral sands project in Mozambique.

Savannah starts construction at MutambaSavannah personnel and members of the construction team inspect the pilot plant site earlier this year. Savannah’s CEO, David Archer, is fifth from the left.

Savannah expects to commission the 20 tonnes per hour pilot plant by the end of 2017. It will be used to produce bulk samples of concentrate for metallurgical and product test work. Mozambique-based AML, an experienced mineral sands engineering company, has been appointed to undertake the work.

Comments Savannah’s CEO, David Archer: “We are pleased that the pilot plant construction work is now well underway at Mutamba and that good progress is being made. Once commissioned and operational, the plant will provide concentrate bulk samples for analysis and the preparation of final products for test marketing. The completion of the plant will be a key milestone for the Mutamba Consortium as we move the project towards a development decision.”

AML is a fully independent company that has provided multi-disciplinary engineering and process services to the mining industry in Mozambique since 2011. It clients have included Kenmare Resources, which operates the Moma Titanium Minerals Mine in northern Mozambique, MPDC (Maputo Port Development Company) and Mozal.

The pilot plant was constructed and tested under the direction of Rio Tinto in 2012 in South Africa before being disassembled and packed into containers and shipped to the Mutamba site.

The Mutamba project is being developed by Savannah and Rio Tinto as part of a consortium agreement between the two parties. Savannah has the right to earn up to a 51 % interest in the project, subject to key milestones being met. The project is located in the Inhambane province of Mozambique about 35 km south-east of the city of Inhambane and 300 km north-east of Maputo.

The Scope of Works (SoW) for AML is for the turnkey re-assembly and commissioning of the plant. This includes: the bulk earthworks; preparation of the old railway line to be used as a construction access road; civil works; structural re-assembly; processing equipment (piping, cyclones, distributors, spirals and distributors assembly); electrical and control; mechanical (pumps, conveyor, vibrating feeder); and plant commissioning.

Earlier this year Savannah Resources completed a Scoping Study on Mutamba that indicates excellent life of mine financial returns with relatively modest capital requirements. The company is targeting first production from Mutamba in 2020.

The mining inventory that forms the basis of the Scoping Study was derived from an optimised pit shell giving a 30-year mine life and comprises 451 Mt averaging 6 % Total Heavy Minerals (THM) in indicated and inferred resources.

Average annual production following ramp-up to a 15 Mt/a mining rate is estimated to be 456 000 tonnes of roasted ilmenite and 118 000 tonnes of non-magnetic concentrate (rutile and zircon) over an initial mine life of 30 years, which will position the Mutamba project as a globally significant ilmenite producer.

At the assumed base case pricing of US$185/t for ilmenite and US$250 for non-magnetic concentrate (rutile and zircon) over the project life, the project is anticipated to generate average pre-tax cash flows of US$40 million per annum. The life of mine revenue is forecast to be US$3,53 billion and cash operating costs over the life of mine are US$2,16 billion.

Developing the project will involve a pre-production capital expenditure of US$152 million plus US$74 million of contingency, EPCM and spares, with identified opportunities that may reduce capital expenditure with a payback of five years.

Mutamba includes three separate mineral sand deposits: Jangamo, Dongane and Ravene. The Dongane and Ravene deposits are dominated by the high dune topography. However, at Jangamo, high dunes only occur to the south where it approaches Dongane.

Several mining methods were reviewed for applicability to the project. These included the dredge wet mining method as well as the front-end loader (FEL)/truck and dozer trap dry mining methods. Of the dry mining options considered, dozer trap mining is preferred over the FEL/ truck mining method.

Mined ore will be slurried and pumped to the nearby primary concentrator plant (PCP). Processing in the PCP consists of desliming to remove fines and gravity separation using spiral circuits. The PCP has been sized for a nominal feed rate of 2 000 t/h in order to produce approximately 800 000 t/a of heavy mineral concentrate (HMC) with a heavy mineral grade in the order of >90 %.

The HMC produced will trucked to the mineral separation plant (MSP). The concentrate will be fed into the mineral separation circuit where it will be processed to produce a magnetic roasted ilmenite product and a zircon-rich non-magnetic concentrate. For the base case, the MSP has been sized to process HMC at a rate of 105 t/h to produce approximately 70 t/h of roasted ilmenite and 15 t/h of non-magnetic concentrate.

Photos courtesy of Savannah Resources.

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