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Zulu lithium/tantalum project pilot plant, Zimbabwe – update

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24th May 2024

By: Sheila Barradas

Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Name of the Project
Zulu lithium/tantalum project pilot plant.

Location
Fort Rixon, Zimbabwe.

Project Owner/s
Premier African Minerals.

Project Description
The Zulu project comprises 14 mineral claims covering a surface area of 3.5 km2.

The latest mineral resource statement on the project states an indicated and inferred resource of 24-million tonnes grading 0.43% lithium oxide and 42% tantalum pentoxide

The proposed pilot plant has a nameplate throughput of up to 190 t/h; however, it is planned to run at a more conservative 140 t/h at inception.

The pilot plant will use state-of-the-art, sensor-based ore-sorting technologies that will facilitate the separation of run-of-mine material into components and, in so doing, will likely increase available capacity in the flotation recovery circuits, where lithium minerals are recovered.

Ultimate production and recoveries are a factor of many variables, and the pilot plant is likely to assist in dealing with these variables, owing to the inherent flexibility of using multiple ore sorters.

Stockpiles of tantalum-, petalite- and mica-/lepidolite-rich material will facilitate further testwork and flowsheet development to ensure that this material is truly inventory for later profitable recovery.

Potential Job Creation
Not stated.

Net Present Value/Internal Rate of Return
Not stated.

Capital Expenditure
Not stated.

Planned Start/End Date
Not stated.

Latest Developments
Premier African Minerals is raising about £1.25-million through the issue of about 781.25-million shares at 0.16p each.

It will use the funds raised for the ongoing mining operations at its Zulu lithium and tantalum project, and for working capital purposes.

"We are encouraged with mining operations and the run-of-mine ore grades that consistently exceed our resource estimate and this is mitigating, for the moment, the ore sorter deficiencies.

"This also supports a review of overall operations and production costs and the likely reduced production costs," CEO George Roach has noted.

Premier replaced the original contractor at the Zulu plant in March and has said that, while the flotation circuit is now capable of running in a constant and stable state, it will take time to fully remedy the original design deficiencies in the overall plant and progress from what, in many instances, are interim fixes to the final operating plant.

Extensive ore sorting testwork will soon start and replacement ore sorters will be considered thereafter. "It remains our preferred outcome that the original supplier resolves this," the company has stated.

Further, the company has installed a header box and gravity feed arrangement for hydrosizers at the plant.

Premier contends that while there will still be some optimisation required, the initial operation suggests that the plant will run on a single hydrosizer, and this arrangement has resulted in better mill optimisation.

The unexpected upside of this is that the overall plant capacity in respect of the crushers, milling and sizing circuit is likely to allow for a substantial increase in throughput at a lower cost than would otherwise have been the case with an additional mill, the company explains.

In addition, dense-media separation-based testwork on the undersized ore fraction being stockpiled has been completed, and laboratory results are awaited to determine spodumene and tantalum recoverability.

Concurrently, the original-equipment manufacturer for the installed magnetic separation is assisting and working closely with Zulu.

"We have a long way to go, but we remain encouraged by the fact that we are producing spodumene that is saleable. The design for the additional conditioning circuit required is complete and most components are either on site or on order,” the company has indicated.

Premier expects to take delivery of the circuit at end-June.

Provided this timeline is met, installation and integration are expected to take a further 14 days. Normal operations are not expected to be impacted on.

This is expected to be the final component to allow for recoveries at design capacity.

Key Contracts, Suppliers and Consultants
JR Goddard Contracting (mining contractor); and Stark International Projects (design, procurement, installation and commissioning contractor).

Contact Details for Project Information
Premier African Minerals, tel +27 100 201281 or email info@premierafricanminerals.com.
 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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