PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The feasibility study on the Sandpiper phosphate project, in Namibia, has predicted that a capital investment of some $326.3-million would be needed to support a three-million-ton-a-year operation.
The capital cost estimate was some $182-million higher than estimated in the scoping study, ASX-listed Minemakers said.
The feasibility study envisaged a steady-state production of three-million tons a year of concentrate, over an initial mine life of 20 years, including a ramp-up period of two years, from an estimated mineral resources of 60-million tons, at 20.8% phosphate.
Minemakers reported that the feasibility study had been limited to the production of beneficiated phosphate concentrate, as this product would be sold to the agricultural industry, as well as third-party fertilizer manufacturers.
However, as Namibia’s infrastructure developed, Minemakers would assess the opportunity to develop a downstream processing operation to produce refined fertilizer products, which would occur in-country.
Meanwhile, Minemakers noted that an optimisation of the feasibility study’s capital estimate was now under way and would continue during the detailed front-end engineering and design work, with the aim of identifying savings.
The ASX-listed company said that there were several areas in which potential capital savings have been identified, including undertaking staged construction of tailings storage facilities on an as-needed basis, as well as moving the buffer pond closer to the beneficiation plant, which should result in a shorter pipeline and smaller pump sizes.
Further work on the optimisation studies on the capital and operating costs would be required before Minemakers would make an economic analysis of the project, the company said.
Following an investment decision and securing financing, it was estimated that project construction and commissioning would take some 24 months to complete.
Prior to the start of production, Minemakers would be required to obtain environmental clearances from the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, to allow for both offshore marine mining and onshore beneficiation activities.
Minemakers has submitted its final environmental-impact assessment (EIA) and environmental management plan (EMP) for the offshore mining activities. The final EIA and EMP for the onshore activities were currently being prepared and would be submitted to the Namibian government before the end of May.