IDC lends R120m for Spanish andalusite mine

13th March 2007

South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation has agreed to provide a medium-term credit line of R120-million towards a total of R200-million in project costs for an andalusite mine in Spain, which will come on stream in August.

South African firm ETS will be the main contractor on the mine, while other local companies, including Steffen Robertson & Kirsten, Mintek and the University of Pretoria, will also play key roles in the development of Picobello Andalicita.

Picobello Andalicita president Isti de Ujfalussy said on a visit to South Africa that the country was a major player in Spain's andalusite mining.

All the metallurgical test-work for the project was conducted in South Africa at various facilities, such as Mintek and the University of Pretoria. More than half of the plant's material would be supplied from South Africa.

Andalisite deposits at Picobello Andalucita, in Spain's north-west region of Galicia, has proven resources to sustain 15 years of production at 50 000 t/y to a depth of 20 m and occasionally to 40 m.

Meanwhile, De Ujfalussy said that the company was negotiating with three companies, two of which were in Europe, to “take a substantial investment” in the mine.

“Fortunately, the material is ripable and the sustainable grade excellent, superior to the grade of alternate European producers, and equal to the Purisite from Thabazimbi,” said De Ujfalussy.

Several notable end-users - European refractory manufacturers - have approved the product, called Picosite. The market for andalusite is strengthening due to growing demand from EU, India, Russia and Ukraine.

The environmental impact study is due to be published by the Galician regional government's planning authority in March, and site-work was planned to start in August.