Mineral sands producer Kenmare Resources has safely relocated the wet concentrator plant (WCP) B to Pilivili at its Moma titanium minerals mine, in northern Mozambique.
Kenmare previously announced three development projects that together have the objective of increasing ilmenite production to 1.2-million tonnes a year (plus co-products) on a sustainable basis from 2021.
The move of WCP B to the high-grade Pilivili orezone is the last of the three projects.
This increased production is expected to significantly lower cash operating costs to between $125/t and $135/t (in 2020 real terms).
Consequently, from 2021, the group expects to be in the first quartile of the industry revenue to cost (or margin) curve, supporting stronger free cash flow generation and providing for increased shareholder returns.
WCP B and its dredge were moved 23 km from their previous mining area at Namalope to Pilivili.
The move was undertaken in two stages, with the dredge moved first, followed by WCP B. They were transported along a 66-m-wide, purpose-built road using platform vehicles called self-propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) by specialist heavy lifting and transport contractor Mammoet.
The other key contractors for the project are Hatch, Teichmann and Binvic.
This is the only move of this type expected to be required during WCP B’s economic life.
WCP B and its dredge are now positioned safely on plinths in Pilivili and the next stage is to float them across the Mualadi river and into the starter pond.
The establishment of associated infrastructure is continuing and heavy mineral concentrate production from WCP B is expected to begin in the fourth quarter.
WCP B weighs about 7 100 t, including ballast, and is 24 m high, 80 m long and 60 m wide. It is the heaviest piece of mining equipment to be moved in Africa to date.
With 290 axles required to lift and transport WCP B, the move also represents the most SPMT axles used in Africa to date and one of the largest moves of a single piece of equipment in the world.
The move was particularly unusual owing to the combination of the weight of the load and the length of the distance travelled, Kenmare says.
“Moving the plant in one piece, an object weighing the equivalent of 550 double decker buses, taller than a seven-storey building and wider than a football pitch, is a huge achievement for our company.
"This type of relocation is rare in the mining industry, but it was the correct choice for Kenmare given the economic benefits and lower risk profile it provided, compared to the alternatives we considered.
"I would like to extend my congratulations and thanks to the Kenmare team on site and our specialist contractors for completing this record-breaking task safely and overcoming many challenges as a result of Covid-19,” comments MD Michael Carvill.