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Kropz’s Elandsfontein project remains on track, albeit tightly so

23rd November 2021

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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Emerging African phosphate developer Kropz’s Elandsfontein project, in South Africa, remains on schedule, albeit tight, and within the original projected capital budget for commissioning next month.

The Aim-listed producer on November 23 highlighted that these achievements “have been realised against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic” and said site activities were split between finalising the piping installation and the electrical, control and instrumentation installation, and early commissioning activities.

Earthworks and civil construction were complete, the producer said, and included the fabrication and erection of structural steel; and platework and piping, which were also complete, and included the installation of mechanical equipment.

Pre-commissioning (C2) activities were advancing well, it further noted, pointing out that the C2 activities largely entailed testing signals from field instrumentation to the supervisory control and data acquisition operating system, testing input/output signals for instruments and direction testing of electrical drives.

C3 (or cold) commissioning has started in areas where installation is complete. Several tanks and thickeners have been filled with water to run through the leak detection process, before starting to pump water through the circuit, Kropz said.

However, the piping installation progress was hampered by a nationwide industrial action by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) from October 5 to 21. The strike affected the off-site workshop-related work on the rubber-lined pipe closures, which in turn affected the site work.

Mitigation plans were put in place, but employees were intimidated and the mitigation efforts had to be halted, Kropz lamented, though it confirmed that no further impacts of the strike on the project schedule were anticipated.

Additionally, the delivery of the ‘first fill’ of imported reagents from the US, is on track for mid-December.

While the delivery times for imported reagents remained under pressure owing to global shipping challenges, recent feedback from shipping agents was that the freight demands were expected to ease after Chinese New Year, Kropz mentioned.

It added that additional orders had been placed to secure delivery for the first quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, rail entity Transnet Freight Rail has provided Kropz with a draft port access agreement to support the long-term export of Elandsfontein’s phosphate rock through the Port of Saldanha Bay.

The contract is now being finalised between the parties and will result in exports through Cape Town only being required for a maximum of 30% of Elandsfontein’s export production of about one-million tonnes a year, and only if capacity through Saldanha Bay is unavailable for a period of time.

First phosphate rock ore exports from Elandsfontein are expected in the first quarter of 2022.

Meanwhile, the producer is finalising an updated feasibility study for its Hinda project, in Congo-Brazzaville, with consulting engineering company Hatch engaged in a value engineering phase to optimise the project economics.

The results of the updated study are expected to be released in January 2022.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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