Gauteng-based phosphate and limestone-focused producer Adelaide Ruiters Mining & Exploration (ARME) has appointed engineering consultants DMT Kai Batla and Royal Haskoning DHV to advance its Zandheuvel phosphate mining project, in Saldanha Bay, in the Western Cape.
DMT Kai Batla will conduct the bankable feasibility study (BFS) for the project, while Royal Haskoning DHV has been appointed the consulting engineer focusing on the water and energy aspects of the project.
ARME CEO and founder Adelaide Ruiters tells Mining Weekly that the BFS will be completed in a phased approach over a 12- to 18-month period.
The first phase of the study will focus on mineral resource potential and estimations, as well as metallurgical testing. The second phase will centre on mine planning and design. The third and final phase will study infrastructure layout and detailed engineering designs.
ARME will also apply for a mining right during the BFS. Once the mining right and all the necessary environmental approvals for Zandheuvel have been granted, construction will start.
The project will consist of mine infrastructure, a flotation plant and a wastewater treatment plant.
Ruiters notes that a prefeasibility study conducted in 2014 revealed that the phosphate orebodies at Zandheuvel are of a high enough sedimentary phosphate grade to be beneficiated using flotation processes to produce an organic direct application fertiliser for agriculture.
“Sedimentary phosphate is citric acid soluble and this enables the plant or crops to directly absorb the phosphate, or fertiliser. Conversely, igneous phosphate is sparsely citric acid soluble and, therefore, a phosphoric acid needs to be produced for further fertiliser production,” she explains.
The fertiliser will be sold to local and export agriculture markets.
Ruiters highlights that sedimentary phosphate direct application fertilisers can be used as a direct application to plants, whereas igneous phosphate rock has to be converted into phosphoric acid to be used in fertilisers, with the added problem of gypsum disposal as a by-product, which has become an international problem.
ARME received the prospecting right for Zandheuvel in 2013, before the amendments to the National Environmental Management Act (Nema) were gazetted in 2014.
ARME undertook the process of complying with the new requirements of Nema for the Zandheuvel prospecting right in January. DMT Kai Batla was appointed to audit the environmental aspects of the prospecting right.
ARME also owns other prospecting rights, namely the Ystervarkensrug and Witteklip phosphate tenements, in the vicinity of Zandheuvel. DMT Kai Batla also compiled the environmental management plan and consultation report for Ystervarkensrug.
The company acquired the Witteklip tenements and all the phosphate assets from local phosphate exploration company Orexx PO, which has an 8% share of ARME.
ARME is consolidating all its prospecting rights into one resource.
This project will be able to contribute significantly to the local economy in the vicinity of the Zandheuvel tenement, owing to its proximity to the Saldanha Bay industrial development zone and the harbour of Saldanha.
At the beginning of this year, Royal Haskoning DHV was commissioned to provide consulting services on the water use for Zandheuvel. Subsequently, ARME has entered into discussions with the Saldanha Bay municipality and requested treated effluent from the municipality be sent to the mine.
The effluent will be further treated at the mine and will then be used at the flotation plant. This will significantly reduce the potable water requirement for the project, as well as assist the Saldanha Bay municipality in supporting sustainable development by making the best use of available water resources and ensuring the sustainability of their water supply, while also reducing the impact of discharging treated effluent into the environment.