Steady-state operation at the Gangama dry mine plant was expected to be achieved within four months, mineral sands company Sierra Rutile reported in June.
Plant commissioning of the Sierra Leone-based Gangama dry mine project and the handover from mining project manager DRA Projects to owner Sierra Rutile were completed on May 31.
The openpit, dry mining operation comprises two independent 500 t/h units, each similar to the Lanti dry mine commissioned in 2013.
Gangama is operational and producing high-quality natural rutile, a high-grade titanium feedstock.
Construction of the Gangama dry mine started in April 2015 and, over a 13-month period, Sierra Rutile worked alongside DRA to ensure that it was completed on time and within budget.
The company notes that plant commissioning is achieved once the dry mining plant has operated and processed ore for seven consecutive days, achieving specific design criteria, including nameplate capacity of 500 t/h.
This test period ran from May 22 to 29, during which feed rates and plant use exceeded the design criteria.
Specifically, over the seven-day period, the Gangama dry mine plant operated at an average throughput of 555 t/h and 87% availability.
Sierra Rutile CEO John Sisay states that, during the process guarantee period, the Gangama plant proved capable of outperforming its nameplate capacity.
He thanked DRA Projects for collaborating and working with Sierra Rutile to successfully bring the Gangama dry mine into production on time and within budget, further demonstrating Sierra Rutile’s continued record of delivering on its stated goals.
DRA MD Johann de Bruin commended the DRA team, its construction partners and Sierra Rutile on completing the project with zero lost-time injuries.
He adds that the project has been a major success for DRA and is testament to the project’s continued growth in mineral sands as well as DRA’s expanding capabilities throughout Africa.
“A key strength of our organisation is our ability to deliver in Africa and we look forward to continuing the partnership with Sierra Rutile,” he enthuses.
Sierra Rutile indicates that, building on the experience gained in successfully designing, constructing and operating the Lanti and Gangama dry mines, it remains fully engaged in improving process efficiency, value engineering and the market evaluation of its two further near-term expansion projects, the 250 t/h bolt-on units, one for each of Lanti and Gangama.
Sierra Rutile also continues to progress towards a definitive feasibility study for its Sembehun dry mine, also in Sierra Leone.
In March, Mining Weekly reported that Sierra Rutile had concluded a prefeasibility study (PFS) for the Sembehun dry mine project intended to extend the life and scope of operations at its fully permitted Sembehun group of deposits.
The PFS found that the dry mine was value enhancing and capital efficient. The operation would have the flexibility to operate at either a 500 t/h or 1 000 t/h throughput rate.
Compared with the scoping study released last year, the current PFS supported reduced levels of capital expenditure, a shortened lead time and improved economic returns.
Further, the PFS was in line with the continued transition of Sierra Rutile to a market-led business model with the flexibility to align production with long-term demand.
“If commissioned, the Sembehun dry mine would be the third dry mining operation constructed at Sierra Rutile,” said Sisay.
In addition to its existing operations, these projects will enable Sierra Rutile to continue to implement its strategy of increasing production through the expansion of its dry mining operations, aligning production with anticipated customer demand in a capital-efficient manner.
The near-term expansion projects will further improve Sierra Rutile’s ability to quickly respond to a market upturn in mineral sands.