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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: August 13th 2007


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:: Fast-track Upgrade for Marropino Tantalite-processing Plant

Bateman Engineering has supported the expansion of the processing capacity of AIM listed Noventa Limited’s tantalite mine at Marropino, located about 320 km north-east of the coastal town of Quelimane in northern Mozambique.

Marropino is believed to be the largest primary producer of tantalum concentrate in Africa and one of the world’s lowest-cost producers. At full capacity the facility will produce approximately 500,000 lbs of tantalum pentoxide a year and provide employment for 250 local workers.

This reimbursable fast-track project, valued at about R20 million to Bateman, commenced in June 2005 and was completed in September 2006. It comprised the provision of a new feed preparation circuit, with a capacity to handle 200 t/h of run-of-mine feed from the opencast mine. The capacity of the spirals plant was also increased, with an associated improvement in efficiency. This was achieved by altering the configuration of the spirals, rerouting the piping and introducing a novel surge-bin design to control the density of the feed to the spirals.

During the ramp-up phase of the upgraded plant, it was found that there was an improvement in throughput and recovery compared to the old plant. It was also easier to operate and maintain.

The scope of the project included the design of the upgraded facility, procurement of the equipment required and transport to site. The remote location of the mine made logistics a real challenge with it taking up to five weeks to get a truck travelling over poor roads to reach the site.

Tantalite is one of the key source minerals for tantalum. Tantalum has a wide number of applications, but the key end use is in the manufacture of high performance, miniaturised capacitors. These capacitors are essential to meet the increasing demand for smaller devices in the electronics industry. The electronics industry consumes approximately two-thirds of tantalum production, with the balance being used primarily in the production of super-alloys.

As a subsequent addition to the project, Bateman Engineering is designing and supplying a picking conveyor for the recovery of morganite, a rare, pink, beryl gemstone which has been discovered in the Marropino orebody.




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