Aim-listed AfriTin Mining on Tuesday confirmed that commissioning of the processing plant at its flagship asset, the Uis tin mine, in Namibia, had now started and was being conducted in a phased manner.
Phase 1 of the pilot plant project will start with the testing of mechanical installations and progress to continuous ore beneficiation.
The plant consists of two main parts – a four-stage crushing circuit and a three-stage concentrating circuit.
The C4 stage of commissioning, which involves passing ore material through the circuit, is scheduled for the end of this month for the crushing circuit and the end of June for the concentrating circuit.
AfriTin on Tuesday said that, during commissioning, the plant would produce initial tin concentrate. However, hot commissioning and continuous plant operations would likely only start in July.
This, the miner explained, represented a slight deviation from previous guidance by the company that commercial tin concentrate production would start in the second quarter of the year, owing to the longer-than-expected lead times in the procurement of equipment, material and construction services.
Commissioning will be followed by a production ramp-up spanning four months, with the goal of achieving design capacity before the end of the fourth quarter.
Mining contractors have been mobilised and have started with continuous mining operations at the Uis mine.
Initially, outcropping pegmatites of the V1 and V2 orebodies would be targeted, AfriTin explained, noting that it would be using an opencast mining method and production would be ramped up according to the schedule of the processing plant.
The miner is further conducting overburden stripping at a ratio of 1.5 t of overburden to 1 t of ore to ensure the sustainable exposure of ore over the life of the Phase 1 operation.
AfriTin is recruiting operational personnel, with about one-third of the total planned complement of 90 people having been appointed, including the entire management team.
Moreover, general infrastructure to the operation is now in place, including water supply from groundwater sources and electrical power supply from diesel generating sets.
As per an announcement earlier this month, AfriTin has also concluded an agreement with the Namibian Power Corporation for the provision of grid electrical power. Construction of the infrastructure required for the grid power connection has started.
“While there is work to be done to achieve steady-state production, the significant step of commencing production and first concentrate is a momentous milestone for the company,” CEO Anthony Viljoen commented.