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:: Unlocking Maximum Value – Saleable Tons from Iron Ore Waste
The allure of recovering and beneficiating iron ore from marginal and low-grade overburden stockpiles, oversize stockpiles and fines dams is only ever apparent during commodity booms or busts – when unlocking every available ton and turning it into minable and profitable material is crucial.
Wet processing equipment company CDE has successfully helped bring an Australian iron ore miner back from the brink of closure through the innovative use of its technology and believes that this technology can be used to unlock value in the South African iron ore mining sector too, writes Chantelle Kotze.
Wayne Warren, business development manager for sub-Saharan Africa at CDE, explains that CDE has been identifying ways to tailor its wet processing equipment into bespoke solutions that can help the broader mining industry unlock resources that have previously been seen as “not worth the squeeze”.
The global iron ore boom which began in early 2000s as a result of China’s large-scale industrialisation, which in turn increased the country’s imports of the key steelmaking ingredient, was the key driver behind CDE’s venture into iron ore recovery.
The most recent iron ore boom, which has seen prices near their highest in two years, has once again been spurred by growing demand from China but also by the collapse of a tailings dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine, in Brazil in January this year which has threatened Vale's iron ore supply and cut into global output.
Despite the current booming iron ore price, ratings agency Fitch maintains that prices will begin to drop from 2020, underpinned by a less positive outlook for Chinese growth than in previous years.
According to Warren, it is the boom and bust cycles that encourage iron ore miners to find ways to unlock value from waste stockpiles but also to better position themselves to deliver ore at a lower cost per ton, while mitigating the economic risks that come with a fluctuating iron ore prices.
To date, CDE has delivered a number of successful projects in Australia’s opencast mining sector, including its flagship installation for SIMEC Mining, where it helped bring an iron ore operation that was in administration back into production – saving hundreds of jobs in the process.
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