JSE-listed Eastern Platinum (Eastplats) produced 987 003 t of chrome concentrate in 2020 from its retreatment project at Barplats Mines, at the Crocodile River Mine property, in North West.
The company produced 588 006 t of chrome concentrate in 2019.
The retreatment project is a proprietary operation producing chrome concentrates. It includes a combined hydro and mechanical re-mining method, magnetic separation applied to produce chrome concentrates, therefore obtaining superior yield result compared with traditional gravity technology.
The project is the only large-scale magnetic separation application in South Africa.
Since 2017, Barplats has grown from employing 100 people to having 350 contractors and employees engaged in supporting the retreatment project. The project is expected to continue operating into 2024.
The company says the last two years of successfully operating the retreatment project has laid the ground work to acquire the technical knowledge, confirm the upgrade required in the feed, as well as establish the financial resources required to restart the platinum group metals (PGMs) side of the operations.
Eastplats is currently reconfiguring and optimising a small-scale PGM circuit – previously the scavenger plant circuit and now called PGM Circuit D, which also includes funding for some of the initial work required to restart the main PGM plant circuit.
The company expects the work to be completed before March 12. The extraction of PGMs will generate additional revenue and create new employment opportunities.
To this end, Barplats had entered into an agreement with Advanced Beneficiation Technologies South Africa to complete an independent feasibility study for the
development and construction of a new modular plant.
The plant will have the capacity to process PGMs from the tailings redeposited from the retreatment project at a designated area of the Zandfontein tailings dam, at an expected rate of 50 000 t a month.
This “Circuit H Project” is being pursued to provide the opportunity to remine the tailings already deposited from the beginning of the retreatment project and extract additional value from PGMs.
Eastplats reports that the feasibility study is in its final stages and the results are expected by the end of March. The process had been delayed by Covid-19-related impacts, particularly as it relates to the assay labs.