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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: October 6th 2008


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:: Braemore Takes Another Leap to Smelting Platinum

Braemore Resources took the next step to establishing the first UG2 platinum smelter using ConRoast technology on the South African Bushveld, when it unveiled a 3.2MW "demonstration smelter" that will treat the platinum offtake of producing juniors at Mintek, a state-owned minerals research organisation, in the city.

Chief executive officer of Braemore Resources Leon Coetzer told Mineweb today the company planned to build its first 10MW UG2 smelter on the western limb of the Bushved from the first quarter of next year. It expected the smelter to treat 8,000t of ore per month; delivering 150,000PGM ounces a year.

Coetzer said the company had completed the testing of the Mintek ConRoast technology, which the company had an exclusive license to as the 3.2MW demonstration smelter located at Mintek in Randburg, Johannesburg would already treat 2 200t of ore a month. He said the recent upgrade of the smelter from about 1.5MW to 3.2MW demonstrated the scaleability of Braemore's undertaking, while the next leap to treating 8,000t of ore per month was not too large.

The demonstration project was fully industrialised and has already put the financial model to test, while it also smelted high-chrome concentrate on contract basis, similar to how the planned 10MW commercial smelter would operate.

Coetzer said the company's next step to becoming a midstream processor and then "mine to metals" company on the South African landscape that hosts 80% of the world's known platinum reserves was to put together a black economic empowerment (BEE) consortium that would participate a minimum of 50% on project level.

The company today announced the appointment of Dr. Matthews Phosa, a member of the ANC's National Executive Committee, as non-executive chairman of its board. It said in a statement Phosa would "play a leading role in facilitating the black economic partnership Braemore is currently negotiating in terms of its South African footprint".

The CEO told Mineweb its BEE consortium partner would also go some way to determine which juniors' or UG2 producer's concentrate would be treated in its UG2 smelter. Braemore has made a commitment to the market that it will announce its first offtake agreement or intent thereof, before the end of the year.

He said he was aware of the fact that a number of platinum juniors had plans to build UG2 smelters in the Bushveld igneous complex, but Braemore's view was that it was the only company with rights to the ConRoast technology that could treat UG2 ore with high chrome content. UG2 ore is increasingly being mined on the Bushveld complex.

The company would have the ability to treat concentrate ranging from high-chrome to low chrome content as its ovens were highly modular, said Coetzer. He said the company envisaged establishing 30MW smelting capacity in the industry over the next four years.

Braemore said its feasibility study covered a range of feedstock options and capital expenditure for the project would be finalised once the optimal feed source is determined in the last quarter of 2008.




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