Glencore subsidiary Katanga Mining has successfully completed the hot commissioning of Phase 2 of the whole ore leach (WOL) processing facility at its 75%-owned subsidiary Kamoto Copper Company's (KCC's) copper and cobalt mine in Lualaba province, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The commissioning of the pre-leach circuits is continuing as scheduled and is expected to be completed by the end of this year, the company said in a statement this week.
A progressive ramp-up of the facility is expected to follow, with the objective of achieving full capacity of the WOL plant by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
“We are very pleased to have entered into the final phase of the commissioning of the WOL processing plant project after three years of hard work,” commented Katanga CEO Johnny Blizzard.
Separately, good progress is being made on the construction of the cobalt debottlenecking project, which comprises three new filter presses and a magnesium oxide reagent plant within the existing cobalt circuit and the construction of two cobalt hydroxide dryers, the company said.
It is expected that both upgrades will be commissioned and in full production by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
This will align cobalt processing capacity with the KCC life-of-mine cobalt production plan of 30 000 t/y on average and a 40 000 t/y maximum capacity.
The export of cobalt hydroxide by KCC remains suspended, owing to the levels of uranium contained in cobalt hydroxide produced by KCC.
While a long-term technical solution in the form of building an ion exchange system is being reviewed, the company intends to work with its partner State-owned Gécamines to look at various alternative interim solutions, both operational and regulatory, to restart exports.
The company also noted good progress on the sulphuric acid and sulphur dioxide plant. The earthworks for the acid plant have been completed, civil works have started and orders for major long-lead items are beginning to arrive on site.
Following a detailed process review, commissioning of the acid plant is expected toward the latter part of the fourth quarter of 2019, with first acid expected in the first quarter of 2020.