The primary crusher circuit for Phase 1's 800 tpa tin concentrate production

Commissioning of AIM-listed AfriTin’s processing plant at its Uis tin project in Namibia has commenced and is being conducted in a phased approach.

The commissioning will start with the testing of mechanical installations and progress to continuous ore beneficiation.

The plant consists of two main parts: a 4-stage crushing circuit and a 3-stage concentrating circuit. 

Our editor-in-chief Laura Cornish caught up with AfriTin Anthony Viljoen at Mining Indaba to chat about the Uis project

The C4 stage of commissioning, which involves passing ore material through the circuit, is scheduled for end of May 2019 for the crushing circuit and end of June 2019 for the concentrating circuit.

During the commissioning, the plant will produce initial tin concentrate; however, hot commissioning and continuous plant operations will likely commence in July 2019.  This represents a slight deviation from previous guidance AfriTin stating that commercial tin concentrate production will commence in Q2, 2019. 

The is due to longer than expected lead times in the procurement of equipment, material and construction services.

Commissioning will be followed by a production ramp up spanning four months with the goal of achieving design capacity before the end of Q4, 2019.

Mining contractors have been mobilised and have commenced with continuous mining operations at the Uis mine.

Initially, outcropping pegmatites of the V1 and V2 ore bodies will be targeted, utilising an open cast mining method and production will be ramped up according to the schedule of the processing plant.

AfriTin is conducting overburden stripping at a ratio of 1.5 t of overburden to 1 t of ore so as to ensure the sustainable exposure of ore over the life of the Phase 1 operation.

The company is in the process of recruiting operational personnel.  Approximately one third of the total planned complement of 90 people have been appointed, including the entire management team.

General infrastructure to the operation is now in place, including water supply from groundwater sources and electrical power supply from diesel generating sets. 

AfriTin has concluded an agreement with the Namibian Power Corporation for provision of grid electrical power.  Construction of the infrastructure required for the grid power connection has started.

The Company has completed exploration drilling (twenty holes) aimed at validating the historical mineral resource information by SRK in 1985, for ISCOR, for the V1 and V2 pegmatites.  The first five holes have been announced (refer to announcement of 20 May 2019) and outstanding assay results are expected during June 2019.

At Uis, formerly the world’s largest hard-rock tin mine, management are employing a two-fold strategy:

  • the Phase 1 pilot plant is designed to process approximately 500 000 tpa producing approximately 60 t of tin concentrate per month;
  • Phase 2 will comprise a planned operation of a 3 Mtpa processing facility, producing approximately 5 000 tpa of tin concentrate.

Commenting on the developments CEO Anthony Viljoen states,

“We have been looking forward to this exciting phase of the project since breaking first ground at the end of 2018.  While there is work to be done to achieve steady state production, the significant step of commencing production and first concentrate is a momentous milestone for the company.”

“Bringing a project of this scale and stature into a supply constrained tin market, less than two years since our admission to AIM, I believe this places Afritin as a player of significance in the global tin market.”