JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Vele Private Equity (VPE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Vele Investments, on Wednesday officially launched a multimillion-rand zinc processing plant aimed at processing one of four remaining tailing dumps at the old Zincor Refinery, in Springs, east of Johannesburg.
The launch was attended by Vele Investments chairperson Tshifhiwa Matodzi, VPE subsidiary EBM Projects MD Niel West and king of the Venda people Toni Mphephu Ramabulana.
The tailings dump, situated on a 240 ha estate, is operated by EBM. West noted that the initial phase of the project entails hydromining the neutral leach dump, which comprises 2.5-million tons of zinc material, that will be processed over an eight- to nine-year period.
West explained that the neutral leach formed between 2000 and 2010 as a result of zinc/copper ore treatment from the effluent plant. He added that the zinc tailings would be treated with acid leach filtration followed by hydroxide precipitation and filtration.
The targeted date for commissioning of the plant is September. The plant is targeting production of around 1 500 t/m of metal. EBM has already completed the design, as well as some of the approvals for the construction of the plant.
EBM raised R140-million from international investors for the construction of the plant. VPE will be contributing R20-million to cover the remaining plant cost.
EBM has secured an offtake agreement with Singapore-based company Valinger and has entered into an agreement with Keech Furnace Technologies, which will dry and further process the wet product from EBM, using a dryer and furnace installed at EBM’s site.
West noted that the project has a net present value is in excess of R1-billion.
Further, the estimated value of the property’s remaining in-situ lead, silver, gold and iron-ore resources is estimated at about R22-billion.
West added that the property comprises a high hazard certified waste disposal dam, as well as two gold tailings dumps and an iron/zinc/lead residue dump. The dam currently contains lead/silver tailings material removed from a previous tailings dump, which now lies vacant.
Of the two gold dumps, the 7L3 gold dump is the more interesting asset, as it contains between 0.7 g/t and 1 g/t gold.
West explained that the material is acidic and that the amount of cyanide needed to process the tailings dump may prove higher than normal.
Feasibility studies for the dump will be undertaken at a later date. However, he does expect to start feasibility work on the lead/silver later this year.
The plant currently employs 104 staff members, but a further 700 direct and indirect jobs may be created as a result of the operation of the plant.
VPE is the newly established, transformation-focused division of Vele Investment and has prioritised investment opportunities that stimulate growth and transformation connecting equity with high-growth companies attempting to progress to their next stage of development.