London Mining aiming to up iron-ore production at Sierra Leone mine to 1.8Mt by end of 2012

16th December 2011 By: Natasha Odendaal - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Iron-ore miner London Mining continues to make significant progress at its Marampa mine, in Sierra Leone, with the ramp-up of the initial Phase 1a plant production.

Production will ramp up during the first half of 2012 to over 160 000 t/m, with 1.8-million tons of production still targeted for next year.

A prefeasibility study (PFS), which was completed earlier this year, indicated the viability of an expansion to 16-million tons a year during Phase 2.

The PFS considers the extension of Marampa to 2036 and comprises three phases, namely Phase 2a, Phase 2b and Phase 2c.

The first phase – a low capital expenditure expansion – includes the initial expansion of eight-million tons a year at an estimated cost of $659-million, and provides the miner with several options of financing the expansion, such as funding from project cash flow.

The miner says the $1 187-million Phase 2b expansion will increase production to a total of 16-million tons a year, based on the mining and processing of the unweathered portion of the Marampa orebody.

Lastly, Phase 2c adds regrinding and flotation capacity to the sinter concentrate circuit to allow for processing of unweathered ore once soft weathered ore has been depleted.

The estimated capital cost of Phase 2c is $523-million and, while it will use Phase 2b logistics, this phase will require an expansion of the port and power facilities.

Engineering project house Bateman Engineering has been appointed to complete the bankable feasibility study for the Phase 2a expansion and is expected to be complete by the end of the second quarter of 2012.

Meanwhile, the Phase 1 logistics solution is in the final stages of commissioning. Integrated logistics group Bolloré Africa Logistics has commissioned the truck haulage fleet, driver training has taken place and the entire length of the 40 km haul road is ready for movement of concentrate, London Mining reports.

Further, the construction of the Thofeyim port will allow barge loading from mid- December and is expected to be fully complete by the end of December for loading at the full Phase 1 rate of 20 000 t/d.

“The Lamnalco tug and barge fleet arrived in Sierra Leone in mid-November, and training and commissioning is progressing to be ready for loading and first shipment later this month,” the company says.

Dredging and rock removal have been undertaken to ensure the minimum required draft of 3.5 m along the entire length of the barging route. No maintenance dredging is expected to be required for several years of the channel’s use.

First export from Sierra Leone is on track to be completed by the end of the 2011. Transport from Korea and commissioning of London Mining’s Pride of Marampa transshipment vessel will occur during the first quarter of 2012 to enable the loading of Capesize ships.

As agreed through its offtake agreement with trading house Glencore, London Mining has received its first prepayment from Glencore for its scheduled December shipment and expects to receive a further prepayment for its January shipment later this month.