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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: June 12th 2002


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:: MDM Constructs new O'Okiep Concentrator

Construction of a new copper concentrator, comprising a milling and flotation plant, has recently been completed at Metorex's O'Okiep copper mine in the Northern Cape province of South Africa. The new concentrator will be treating material from the slag dump, adjacent to the O'Okiep smelter, which replaces concentrate from the existing Nigramoep operation.

The R44 million turnkey project was designed and built by Johannesburg-based Metallurgical Design and Management (MDM) Ltd. Commissioning of the new plant is now in progress and full production will be achieved before the end of May 2002. The plant will treat 70, 000 t/mth of slag material, at an average grade of 1.45 % Cu, and produce approximately 2, 300 t/mth of copper concentrate at an average grade of 30 - 35% Cu. A recovery of about 70 % is expected. The slag dump will provide material for a further five years production.

In addition to extensive testing, the new plant has been benchmarked against similar copper slag reclamation plants around the world, including those at Harjavalta in Finland, Home in Canada and Palaborwa in South Africa. According to MDM, the bench-marking clearly indicates the viability of the project. Project manager Mark Humphery says that several challenges had to be overcome for the project to be successful. These included the need to reduce capital costs (in view of limited life of the plant) by the use of second-hand equipment from O'Okiep's former operations of Carolusberg and, to a lesser extent, Nigramoep. The design of the grinding circuit was constrained by the limits of the existing equipment, yet reserve grinding capacity has been achieved along with flexibility. Also, due to the abrasive nature of slag, special consideration was given to the materials handling sections of the plant, and locating the plant at the foot of a now disused slimes dam meant detailed geo-technical work to locate the bed rock.




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