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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: September 17th 2004


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:: LionOre Mining Commissions Plant in Botswana

LionOre Mining International Ltd has announced the successful commissioning of the fully integrated Activox® Hydrometallurgical Demonstration Plant (HDP) at its Tati Nickel operations in Botswana (See also news July 4th 2003)

The plant is believed to be the first of its kind in the world and is now fully operational and performing above expectations producing nickel and copper metal as well as cobalt carbonate at the mine site.

LionOre managing director, Australia Mark Ashley, said the successful commissioning and operation of the Tati Hydrometallurgical Demonstration Plant represented the culmination of a six-year development process and signalled an important advance in LionOre's global hydrometallurgical strategy.

"LionOre has made a substantial investment in the development of the Activox® hydrometallurgical process because we see hydrometallurgy playing a key role in meeting strongly growing demand for nickel globally, particularly as global smelter capacity is forecast to approach 90 percent by 2006," Ashley said.

"At the same time, development of new smelter capacity is limited by environmental constraints. Hydrometallurgy offers a relatively low capital cost compared to smelting, eliminates gaseous emissions, achieves high levels of metal recovery, and is capable of treating a wide range of concentrates including those with high levels of impurities. The successful completion and commissioning of the Tati HDP is a tribute to the outstanding efforts of the team at Western Minerals Technology, which has recently been recognised with the company receiving a top industry award."

Construction of the US$11.5 million Activox® HDP was completed on schedule and on budget. The ultra fine-grinding mills, the autoclave and the continuous counter-current decantation unit and most of the plant services were operational at the end of June. Construction and installation of the copper, cobalt and nickel extraction circuits was completed in July 2004.

The plant has been progressively commissioned and this was completed by early September. Copper cathodes were produced in July, with production of first nickel cathodes following in August.

This represents the first nickel metal ever produced in Botswana.




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