Concentrator plant at platinum mine under way

19th February 2021 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

Engineering, design and project management company COENG is overseeing the engineering design, procurement and construction management of a three-million-tonne-a-year concentrator plant at platinum mining company Wesizwe Platinum’s Bakubung platinum mine, in the North West.

Phase 1 of the project, which will result in a one-million-tonne-a-year concentrator plant, is nearing the end of its detailed engineering design phase, with construction already under way. Work started on the design and planning of the concentrator plant in the second half of 2018.

The concentrator plant, which occupies about 30 ha, will process platinum-group metals ore from the mine through crushing, milling, flotation and filtration.

“COENG also drove a strategy to apply novel technologies to reduce costs for the client. This included technologies to increase water and energy conservation, as well as to generally reduce the complexity of operations,” says COENG process engineer Sedia Mzimela.

Phase 1 construction was originally scheduled for completion in April, but has been rescheduled for October, owing to Covid-19-related delays. Commissioning will take place next year, with the first product expected in February 2022.

Meanwhile, detailed engineering work has started on Phase 2, which will add two-million tonnes a year of capacity, resulting in a total capacity of three-million tonnes a year when completed.

COENG was appointed to oversee the management of the overall project, which includes the management of Chinese engineering and procurement contractor Sinosteel, and Chinese construction contractor CBMI Construction.

This project management imperative includes ensuring that engineering design standards and all other regulations – such occupational health and safety, labour practice, environment preservation, and procurement – are adhered to in accordance with South African laws and standards.

The COENG staff complement for the concentrator project comprises 42 employees – 12 full-time technical specialists and engineers, as well as 30 part-time design specialists and engineers. Although the average age of the technical team is about 35 years, it also includes several young graduate engineers who are dedicated to the project to ensure they get the experience and opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge in the field.

The concentrator plant will produce a basket of platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold. Nickel and cobalt will also be produced as by-products.