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:: Marula PGM Plant Commissioned
South African company, Dowding Reynard and Associates (DRA), completed construction work on the 233 000 ton a month Marula PGM concentrator at the end of 2003 and finalised hot commissioning of the plant at the end of March 2004. The project was completed on time, below budget and with an excellent safety record.
Marula Platinum, situated on the Eastern limb of South Africa’s platinum-rich Bushveld Complex is owned by Impala Platinum (80%), Mmakau Mining (10%) and other empowerment partners (10%). The name Marula is taken from one of the country’s most famous and historically valued trees.
The plant and infrastructure project undertaken for the Marula platinum mine was, in terms of value and size, the biggest PGM related contract undertaken by DRA to date. The company has undertaken numerous PGM related projects and in 2002 alone built six platinum concentrator plants.
Hot commissioning of the Marula plant began in January 2004, and by the end of February 60 000 tons of ore had been fed through the DMS plant with 45 000 tons of ore, milled. This commissioning was done using low-grade ROM ore, to save the mine’s 400 000 ton high-grade stockpile until after the commissioning phase was complete. During the cold commissioning phase in November 2003 some 3 000 tons of waste from one of the shafts was put through the mills to test as much of the plant’s operation as possible prior to hot commissioning. This initial run bypassed the DMS stage of the circuit and no reagents were used.
When in full production the Marula plant will treat 233 000 tons of ore a month. While the process technology used is conventional and standard for the PGM sector, a specific feature of the concentrator is its large DMS plant which eliminates a substantial amount of waste prior to the milling, flotation, thickening, tailings disposal, product dewatering and concentrate load out. The dense media separation phase increases the grade at which material passes through the mill from 3.5g/t to 4.66g/t.
The first load of concentrate was sent to the smelter in February 2004. Marula expects to produce 16 000 ounces of platinum in concentrate during Impala’s current financial year with an eventual target of 100 000 ounces of platinum a year from January 2006.
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