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MEI Online: Plant Operation News: Africa: March 10th 2004


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:: R26m Platinum-From-Chromite Project Announced

Platinum miner Aquarius Platinum (AQP) has announced that it is to lead a three-member consortium in a project to treat chromite tailings through a purpose-built plant at its Kroondal Mine in South Africa. The initial year of the project is expected to yield in excess of 20 000 oz of platinum group metals (PGMs), growing to 28 000 oz a year from the second year, with half of the production (initially 10 000 oz) attributable to AQP.

The consortium, known for the time being as RK1, comprises Aquarius Platinum South Africa Corporate Services (ASACS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of AQP, GB Mining and Exploration South Africa and Sylvania South Africa (SLVSA).

The consortium has contracted Aquarius Platinum South Africa (AQPSA), Kroondal's owner and operator, to operate the tailings retreatment plant, where AQPSA will receive a management fee for the services provided.

The project will treat old dumps and current tailings streams derived from the beneficiation processes employed by neighbouring chromite miners in the Kroondal area.

After mining of the chromite bearing ores, the chromite ore miners upgrade the quality of their chromite ores for chromite content, producing a tailings stream, which contains the majority of the low-level PGM content derived from mining the chrome ores.

AQP CEO Stuart Murray said: "The project, albeit modest in size compared to our mines, is an all-round winner for the Aquarius group. The project capitalises on our experience in treating UG2 reef, a chromite bearing ore containing higher levels of PGM than the LG6 reef mined by our neighbours. There will be a clean-up of old dumps on the Kroondal property derived from early chromite mining activities, furthering our commitment to sound environmental practice. By reprocessing old dumps at Kroondal and further beneficiating discard streams from our neighbours, we will generate additional, profitable income with very limited risk."

A turnkey contract to construct the plant will shortly be awarded to Tawana Projects, a joint venture company formed between Bateman and ProPlant. Construction will begin this month with first production expected by October of this year, with a rapid ramp-up to full production by December 2004.




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