Mining in Africa projects 2009

6th November 2009 By: Sheila Barradas - Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor

Nkamouna cobalt/nickel/ manganese project
Geovic Mining Corporation, which holds 60% of Geovic Cameroon that owns the Nkamouna cobalt/nickel/manganese project, in Cameroon, has reported that it will delay both fundraising and construction for the project in response to turmoil in the global commodity, capital and credit markets. The company plans to continue with limited preconstruction activities, while deferring previously budgeted work, such as exploratory drilling and engineering commitments, until global financial and commodities markets improve. The project will involve the development of an openpit mine using hydraulic shovels and excavators and 54-t trucks as the primary mining equipment.
Project cost: $398-million.

Passendro gold project

Axmin’s Passendro gold project, in the Central African Republic, has been reconfigured, following a review of the April 2008 bankable feasibility study (BFS). The initial production rate of the mine in the BFS was three-million tons a year; however, in light of the current project finance and economic climate, the project throughput has been reduced to 1,3-million tons a year. With the reconfiguration of the project, the life of the mine has nearly doubled to 11,5 years from the 5,9 years quoted in the BFS.
Project cost: By reducing the project throughput to an average of about 1,3-million tons a year, the initial capital cost (excluding working capital of $2,1-million) for the construction of the operations at the Passendro gold project has been reduced by some 35%, to $127-million, from the previously quoted figure of $196-million.

Kouilou potash mine

MagMinerals Potasses – owned 90% by MagMinerals, a subsidiary of MagIndustries, and 10% by the government of the Republic of Congo – is continuing to advance and develop its Kouilou potash project, in Pointe-Noire, in the Republic of Congo. The project involves the construction and commissioning of a 600 000-t/y potash plant to produce agri- cultural-grade potash fertilisers to meet the growing demand from markets in South America, South Africa, South Asia and Europe.
Project cost: The most recent estimate of all-in capital and financing costs for the 600 000-t/y operation was $1,1-billion, of which 70% will likely be funded through debt.

Dutwa nickel laterite project

Metallurgical testwork and a scoping study at African Eagle’s Dutwa nickel laterite project, in Tanzania, has shown that the project is likely to be highly profitable. Leach test results have shown high nickel extractions, averaging 83% on a solid basis, and very low sulphuric acid consumption, averaging 210 kg/t, which compares favourably with laterite deposits elsewhere in the world. The mineralogical analyses show that Dutwa is a unique laterite, dominated by silica and with very low iron and magnesium content. These characteristics account for the exceptionally low acid consumption and high nickel recovery. This bodes well for commercial development, as the ore should be amenable to tank or heap leaching at atmospheric pressure. Either technology can be implemented at relatively low capital cost.
Project cost: The capital cost of the project is estimated at $435-million, if a two-million-ton-a-year tank leach plant is considered.

Sukari gold project

Centamin Egypt poured its first gold at the Sukari gold project, in Egypt, on June 26, 2009. The project consists of a 2,5-km- long porphyry granite hill, situa- ted about 700 km south of Cairo and 25 km west of Marsa Alam, on the Red Sea, and has a current mineral resource of 191-million tons at 1,53 g/t of gold for 9,39- million ounces measured and indicated, and 64-million tons at 1,7 g/t of gold for 3,5-million ounces inferred. The four-million-ton-a-year-capacity plant will achieve production rates of about 200 000 oz/y of gold by the end of 2009.
Project cost: The project cost an estimated $216-million.

Letlhakane uranium project

A-Cap Resources’ proposed uranium project involves the construction of Botswana’s first uranium mine at Letlhakane. A scoping study conducted on the site has confirmed a resource of 280- million tons, at 158 parts per million uranium oxide for 44 500 t of contained concentrate.
Project cost: The proposed project will cost an estimated $169-million.

Ambatovy nickel project

The Ambatovy nickel project, in Madagascar, will be among the largest nickel projects under development in the world, with an annual design capacity of 60 000 t of nickel, 5 600 t of cobalt and 190 000 t of ammonium sulphate. Owned by Sherritt International Corporation (project operator, 40%), Sumitomo Corporation (27,5%), Korea Resource Corporation (27,5%) and SNC Lavalin (construction contractor, 5%), the project will consist of an openpit mining operation and an ore preparation plant at the mine site.
Project cost: In February 2009, the owners of Ambatovy, led by operator Sherritt, revised the estimated cost to build the mine to $4,52-billion, a big jump from the previous figure of $3,4-billion.

Benga coal project

The Benga coal project, in Mozambique, is a joint venture between Riversdale Mining (65%) and Tata Steel (35%). A recently completed feasibility study showed coal reserves totalling 273,3-million tons, comprising proved reserves of 181,3-million tons, and probable reserves of 92-million tons. Coal resources totalled four-billion tons, comprising measured resources of 313,9-million tons, indicated resources of 720-million tons, and inferred resources of 2,99- billion tons. The project is expected to be developed in three principal stages to align with the completion and sub- sequent expansion of rail, port, and river barging infrastructure in Mozambique. Stage-one deve- lopment will produce about 1,7- million tons a year of high- quality hard coking coal, and 300 000 t/y of export thermal coal.
Project cost: The estimated cost of the stage-one develop- ment is $260-million and that of the stage-two production $150-million.

Langer Heinrich uranium Stage 2 and Stage 3 expansion projects

Paladin Energy’s Langer Heinrich is a 2,6-million-pound-a-year uranium mine in the Namib desert, about 80 km east of Swakopmund. The Stage 2 expansion of the mine will increase capacity to 3,7-million pounds of uranium a year and will involve expansions to the current alkaline leach/counter- current decantation/ion exchange/drying circuits. The Stage 3 expansion is intended to increase production to six- million pounds of uranium a year.
Project cost: The Stage 2 production expansion will cost an estimated $50-million. The Stage 3 production expansion will cost an estimated $174- million.

Bokai platinum project

An initial feasibility study on the Bokai project, a 60:40 joint venture between Central African Mining & Exploration Company and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, Todal Mining, has revealed an indicated and inferred mineral resource of 10,69-million ounces of 4E (platinum, palladium, rhodium and gold). Stage one reserves are expected to support the production of 163 000 oz/y of platinum-group metals (PGMs) in concentrate form over a 20-year life-of-mine. Stage two developments will likely double the PGMs production.
Project cost: The project is estimated at $100-million.


Banfora gold project

The Interna- tional Finance Corporation has been invited to provide an equity investment of A$2-million to finance ongoing exploration work at Gryphon Minerals’ Banfora gold project, in Burkina Faso. Funds raised will be used to undertake further work targeting additional increases in resources, including an in-fill drilling programme within the existing defined resources zone; an ongoing reverse circulation/diamond drilling programme, following up on high-grade extensions along strike at the project; and starting reconnaissance rotary air blast/aircore/auger drilling, testing high- priority targets.
Project cost: A value for the project has not been confirmed.

Tongon gold project

Randgold Resources has reported that the Tongon mine development, in the Côte d’Ivoire, is on track with the start of the major civil programmes for the process plant. The pro- ject will involve the construc- tion of a 300 000-t/m gold mine, with a life-of-mine of over ten years.
Project cost: The total capital value, including financing, purchase of the mining fleet and ongoing capital, amounts to $267- million. An amount of $240-million has been secured through a private placement of shares.

Ayanfuri gold project

The definitive feasibility study for Perseus Mining’s Ayanfuri gold project, where gold resources have been estimated at 3,9-million ounces (indicated 1 718 500 oz; inferred 2 211 800 oz), is sche- duled for completion in the second half of 2009. The project proposes the construction of a carbon-in-leach mining operation, with an average gold production of 206 000 oz/y expected for the first eight years of full production, including 493 000 oz in the first two years.
Project cost: $134,4-million.

Bomboko mine expansion project

West African Diamonds aims to expand production at the Bomboko alluvial diamond mine, in Guinea, from 3 500 t/m of gravel to 35 000 t/m of gravel. Extensive sampling has identified a potential resource of up to 750 000 ct at grades of up to 28 cpht, mainly gem quality.
Project cost: Expansion costs have not been disclosed.

Gara underground mine

A detailed mine plan and schedule for Randgold Resources’ Gara underground mine, at Loulo, has been completed. It is envisaged that the mine will be accessed through a twin decline system situated inside the southern part of the current openpit. Access will be provided through a cut-through into the pit, which will later be filled in after concrete tunnels have been constructed.
Project cost: A value for the project has not been disclosed.

Imouraren uranium mine

Areva has been granted a permit by the government of Niger to mine the Imouraren deposit. The project involves the construction of a uranium mine, with an annual production of 5 000 t over a life-of-mine of 35 years.
Project cost: The project involves an initial investment of €1,2-billion.

Sabodala gold project

The Sabodala gold project, which is an advanced-stage, openpit gold project located in south-east Senegal, has ramped up smoothly to full production levels since the start of opera- tions in late March 2009. The project, as currently designed, has 18,3-million tons of proven and probable reserves, grad- ing 2,4 g/t gold containing 1,4- million ounces of gold. Gold production in calendar year 2009 is expected to be about 160 000 oz.
Project cost: Capital costs to completion are estimated at $111-million.