AEL Zambia Plc – a member of the international African Explosives mining services group – has announced the successful completion of the construction and commissioning of the bulk emulsion manufacturing plant at the Equinox Minerals Lumwana copper mine in Zambia.
The mine is situated in northwestern Zambia, 220 km west of the copperbelt and 65 km west of the town of Solwezi.
At the official opening of the plant, managing director Thinus Bierman of AEL Zambia Plc – principle producers and suppliers of commercial explosives, initiating systems and blasting services in Central Africa – commented, “This opening ceremony officially heralds the commencement of the largest single investment in Zambia at the largest copper mine in Africa.”
AEL Zambia Plc has been involved in the Lumwana copper mine since early 2005 and completed the construction and commissioning of its bulk emulsion manufacturing plant in January 2009. All bulk explosives supplied to Lumwana Copper Mine since the end of January have been manufactured at the facility.
The bulk emulsion facility is a modular plant, manufactured by AEL South Africa and assembled on site. Together with large storage facilities for raw material, it has the capacity to supply all the current and future requirements of Lumwana operations. The facility also provides an alternative production and buffer stock facility in Zambia, assisting in managing risk of supply concerns.
AEL Zambia Plc has a 10-year contract for the manufacture and supply of Lumwana’s explosives needs. According to Bierman, bulk explosives demand is forecast to peak at approximately 3 000 tonnes per month as the mine ramps up to full production.
“Our emulsion plant here is an example of how the AEL group can provide a world-class facility with a full range of customised products and services in strategic sites at remote locations around the world. We have recruited many of our staff from the local community, providing training and development,” said Bierman.
AEL Zambia Plc has also taken delivery of the first two of the three of the new generation T-Rex mobile manufacturing units (MMUs) for Lumwana, which are used to deliver bulk explosives directly into the blast holes at the mine.
The Lumwana Project’s optimised development plan is based on processing 20 million tonnes per annum of ore to produce copper concentrate for shipment to local smelters. Life-of-mine (37 years) annual production will average 156,000 tonnes of copper metal with over 172,000 tonnes being produced per year during the initial 6 year period.
The mining group is exploring a number of options for expansion. One of these is increased throughput of the current process plant and this could increase demand for bulk explosives to 3500 tonnes per month.
The opening of the mine completed a process that commenced for Equinox Minerals over 13 years ago, and which included a diverse range of disciplines, from exploration, feasibility studies, raising of finance, planning, construction to commissioning and production.
At the opening ceremony, President Rupiah Banda, praised Equinox Minerals for the perseverance and commitment shown to the Lumwana Project despite the current negative economic climate.