In expanding its graphite production operations in Madagascar, specialist graphite and graphene company Tirupati Graphite reports that most of the new earthmoving equipment for the 18 000 t/y plant at Sahamamy has arrived on schedule, despite logistical challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The earthmoving equipment includes hydraulic excavators, payloaders, bulldozers and area graders from manufacturers including Hitachi, Komatsu and BEML, while an outstanding four 30 t articulated dump trucks are currently in transit and expected to arrive on site in early February.
The new mining equipment acquired by Tirupati has a combined in-country landed cost of about $3-million.
The expansion of the Sahamamy plant is scheduled to be completed at the end of the first half of this year.
The plant has been redesigned to use a newly developed column flotation system, which has been achieved without delaying the planned timelines and is expected to deliver significant benefits on costs, emissions and operating efficiencies.
In addition, the design of the processing plant has been enhanced to eliminate the need to transport mined ore from Sahasoa to the main plant, which is located about 3 km away.
Also, Tirupati is reviewing the designs for the three development modules planned at Vatomina, totalling 54 000 t/y of additional capacity. It is planning to adopt the same model and the new column flotation system at Vatomina.
In accordance with the project delivery plans, ahead of completing construction of the Sahamamy processing plant, Tirupati will start mine opening activities at the currently-nascent Sahasoa deposit area within the Sahamamy project, as well as strengthen internal infrastructure to support the expanded operations.
The Sahasoa deposit constitutes the majority of the current delineated Joint Ore Reserves Committee-compliant resources at the Sahamamy project, and has been reserved to supply ore feedstock to the new plant under construction.
Meanwhile, Tirupati notes that the redevelopment of the 100 kW Sahamamy hydropower plant is nearing completion and remains on track for commissioning during the current quarter.
The commissioning of the hydropower plant will substantially replace the diesel-generated power currently used, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by about 50% and power costs by about 10% from the second quarter onwards.
Tirupati executive chairperson Shishir Poddar says the company’s growth projects across its primary graphite division remain on track to achieve total flake graphite production capacity of 84 000 t/y by the end of 2024.
“Our Madagascan mines produce high-quality flake graphite concentrate, providing an essential alternative to Chinese sources.
“Our capacity expansion comes as graphite demand and prices continue to increase, leading to recent media reports forecasting a shortage of flake graphite due to the global growth in the electric vehicle sector. We are focused on capturing the opportunity this represents to create sustainable value for our shareholders,” he says.