Innovative copper, cobalt tailings treatment ‘encouraging’ – Jubilee

11th October 2023 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Innovative copper, cobalt tailings treatment ‘encouraging’ – Jubilee

Jubilee CEO Leon Coetzer at Roan, in Zambia.

JOHANNESBURG ( – The technical team of the JSE AltX- and Aim-listed Jubilee Metals Group is innovating a waste leach circuit for the treatment of copper and cobalt tailings, as part of its Northern Refining copper strategy in Zambia.

The development phase has commenced with upscaled continuous pilot runs to confirm the “encouraging”  results achieved to date, which was how Jubilee described them in an October 11 release to Mining Weekly, which coincided with the company’s publication of audited results for the 12 months to June 30 and an integrated annual report.

An investment programme has been implemented to diversify and expand chrome, platinum group metal (PGM), copper and cobalt operations.

In the 12 months to June 30, record production was achieved across Jubilee’s PGM, chrome and copper operations with 42 433 oz of guidance-exceeding PGMs up 2% year-on-year, 1 289 890 t of chrome concentrate tonnes up 7%, and 2 923 t of copper tonnes up 29%.

In South Africa, its expanded processing of PGM tailings and ores previously regarded as waste has a production capacity of 44 000 oz of PGMs a year, and in Zambia, some 300-million tonnes of copper and cobalt tailings have been secured for upgrading and refining.

Back-up power units installed at chrome facilities in electricity-short South Africa ensured continuous operations and advancements were achieved in Zambia through the formulation of process flow sheets for the treatment of mixed and transitional copper reefs as part of a 14 000 t/y Southern copper strategy.

At the new Roan concentrator in Zambia, water and power infrastructure development has been provided.

“We’ve demonstrated our ability to navigate through some challenging infrastructure conditions,” stated CEO Leon Coetzer, who pointed out that the drop in the PGMs basket price had been countered by expanding chrome operations into higher-margin offtake agreements.

Cash from operating activities, supported by increased contribution from operational expansions, totalled $37-million, down on 2022 financial year’s $42-million. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation were $29.8-million, down on the $48.9-million of the previous corresponding period. Gross profit fell to $38-million from $60-million prior.

Going forward, new processing partnerships in South Africa are expected to enhance margins and growth is on the cards in Zambia.