Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 03 June 2010 – Mining exploration and development company Jubilee Platinum plc is moving towards commercial production of platinum this year, using technology that arguably represents the future of the sector.
One of the limitations in treating platinum concentrate in the smelters used by the major platinum producers is the level of chrome. Too much chrome impairs the efficiencies of the furnaces and can lead to technical issues, and Miningmx points out that the chrome-rich UG2 reef is dominant on the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Complex.
Mintek has patented a system called Conroast, which can effectively treat high-chrome content concentrate. Jubilee’s wholly owned subsidiary Braemore has the exclusive licence to use this technology and has been testing it for some years.
This technology could clear the way for juniors to lower the cost of producing concentrate if chrome levels are not an issue. That testing stage ended in March and Jubilee is now building a five megawatt (MW) plant at a metal treatment plant it bought in Middelburg during April.
The first phase of Jubilee’s project entails building the 5MW plant into existing infrastructure and will cost around R40 million, including some expansion of the facilities. It should be completed and in production this year, Jubilee director and MD of smelting and refining Leon Coetzer told Miningmx.
Jubilee will fund the first phase to treat 3 500 tonnes a month of concentrate from existing cash resources. Buying the Middelburg plant has knocked eight months off the build programme. It came with power supply, cranes, gas scrubbers and trained personnel.
The second phase to add a 7MW plant to treat 4 000 tonnes/month of concentrate will come on stream in the second half of 2011. There is no costing yet on the second phase, which is in the final design stage.
Jubilee is finalising platinum group metal off-take agreements on tailing dumps it has access to. It aims to complete a bankable feasibility study into its Tjate mining prospect in the second half of 2011. “Once we’ve got the first two phases completed our next expansion target is to treat concentrate from Tjate and other junior miners coming on stream,” Coetzer said.