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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: September 29th 2006


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:: R1.67bn Ferrochrome Project Begins Producing

The largest single-phase ferrochrome expansion in the world, Xstrata-Merafe's R1.67-billion Lion project, officially started production this month, after the 360 000-t/y smelter and mine had been completed, the joint venture said in a statement on Tuesday.

The project was set to increase Xstrata-Merafe's total yearly capacity by over 22% to 1.96-million tons and reduce the average unit operating costs of the business.

Xstrata Alloys MD for chrome Deon Dreyer said that the project had been brought to commission on schedule and within budget.

Dreyer explained that the smelter used Xstrata's own proprietary Premus technology, which it claimed had the lowest specific power consumption compared to all ferrochrome smelting technologies. Premus had other advantages, such as its use of low-cost reductants and energy sources, including anthracite and oxygen. It also produced a low silicon ferrochrome alloy in either a granulated or lumpy form, depending on the customer's preference.

Merafe Resources CEO Steve Phiri said that the company expected the global ferrochrome market to continue growing over the next few years, and it was confident that Lion would give Merafe extra capacity.

The smelter provided employment to over 2 700 people during its construction phase and has 453 permanent staff. Lion Ferrochrome is currently building a state-of-the-art training centre in addition to the training provided to several hundred people during the construction phase of the project. The training centre will provide various skills qualifications in line with the National Qualifications Framework, which will allow those trained to seek employment in various artisan and other related fields.




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