The ability to assess each project based on its specific requirements and then providing the most effective and efficient solution has become synonymous with African Mining and Crushing (AMC).
These guiding principles have made it the leading company in cost per tonne solutions. This is evident in a cost-effective and time saving solution provided to a mine in Sierra Leone. Laura Cornish reports.
This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 3, 2019
AMC’s project delivery for an iron ore mine in the West African country to produce ballast concrete stone and base material for export via a 200 km railway line is one of its greatest achievements today and reflects the service offering it can deliver for industry.
AMC had to provide a reliable, cost-effective and efficient solution in this harsh environment.
“This was no easy task,” says Matthew Hughes, CEO for AMC (USA). “At the start of this project, there were four contractors doing the crushing. By the end of the contract, AMC was one of two companies left crushing.”
At the same time, a US$130 million contract to design and build the mine processing plant was awarded to an engineering company. However, this company was overspending and behind schedule.
Furthermore, the mine owner was under pressure as vessels were ordered and on their way to collect iron ore.
AMC was approached for a solution. Joe Scheepers, AMC’s operations director for Africa explains that the plan was to source resources globally and adopt a scalable approach to get the mine operational.
Sustainable, scalable growth
Fast track six weeks and AMC shipped in equipment from around the globe.
A Stage One plant had been established on the mine and more importantly, the mine was producing iron ore. Stage 1A produced 832 tph at $5.16/t. Stage 1B became operational in seven months, producing 1 030 tph at $4.20/t. Both stages were implemented at a total cost of $7.5 million.
Stage 2 saw the development of a wet plant which was implemented in just 20 months at an investment of $7.5 million, producing 1 200 tph at $5.15/t.
Finally, after 33 months Stage 3 commenced after 33 weeks following an investment of $15 million, producing 1 600 tph at $2.20/t.
In contrast, following the standard approach, the mine became operational in 108 weeks and required a cash injection of $130 million to produce 700 tph at $9.32/t.
AMC’s staged approach created a stream of early cash flow and also derisked the mine.
Its scalable plant design and quick implementation meant that the mine had a cost per tonne solution within six weeks compared to 108 weeks.
Notably, cash flow was generated after an investment of $15 million compared to $130 million using the standard approach.
So, how did AMC achieve such good results at an earlier stage? Scheepers attributes this success to two core principles.
“Operationally, our principle is ‘production first, safety always’ while ‘lowest, sustainable, cost per tonne’ drives our design principle’.
“At the heart of this lies the ability to fully understand a client’s mining problem and then to develop and implement a safe, innovative, and guaranteed cost per tonne solution that has been extremely effective and profitable to our clients.
"If we are not able to add this type of valuable contribution to our clients and remain profitable, we would rather not be there.”
“Our income stream is not dependent on the size of the plant but rather on the performance of the plant regardless of the size.
"We are not rewarded financially by over-designing the process plant or designing the mine for more trucks.
"Our reward is 100% in alignment with the mine owner, the shareholders and the community which in almost all cases is to have a sustainable mine,” Hughes concludes.