Senegal – Mining operations continued to ramp‐up at Australia-based mineral sands miner Mineral Deposits Limited's Grande Côte project in Senegal, West Africa during the second quarter of 2015.
The mineral sands operation continued to ramp‐up during the quarter with key focus areas being plant availability and tailings management.
The floating wet concentrator plant (WCP) is the focus of current attention with the plant not yet able to handle the volume of ore that the dredge can provide. A range of discrete commissioning projects on both the dredge and WCP have been identified and are currently being implemented.
The projects are generally straightforward and minor in terms of capital but will require some time to complete due to timing of equipment deliveries and associated engineering works, Mineral Deposits Limited said in a statement.
Consistent with the focus on improving the performance of various WCP circuits, the dredge feed rate was deliberately limited during the quarter to 5 500tph. The dredge and WCP operated at an average of 55% of nameplate capacity (based on ore mined) in the second quarter compared with 61% in first quarter of 2015.
Excluding downtime associated with commissioning issues, the throughput rate achieved remained unchanged at 78% of capacity (based on tons per operating hour capacity) or 5 447tph. The ramp‐up of the Mineral Separation Plant continued to meet expectations with both the Wet Plant and the Ilmenite Circuit of the Dry Plant continuing to operate at design feed rates.
Ilmenite and zircon production increased to an average of 32.5kt and 3.8kt per month respectively.
June represented the best month of finished goods production to date with approximately 40kt of ilmenite and 5kt of zircon produced during the month.
Sales of zircon increased for the third successive quarter as production continued its ramp‐up; however, ilmenite sales decreased as a result of timing of product shipments to offtake customers.
As stated previously, GCO has successfully negotiated sales contracts with external customers for the majority of its 2015 budgeted ilmenite production.
During the period, a process run of 100% GCO ilmenite was successfully completed, confirming previous trials and results at TiZir Titanium & Iron ilmenite upgrading facility in Tyssedal, Norway.
Conditions in the titanium dioxide pigment industry remained weak throughout the quarter, reflecting soft demand and strong competition.
The seasonal surge in demand that generally accompanies the northern hemisphere summer was not as strong as in previous years and the anticipated pigment price rises did not materialise.
Despite these conditions, prices in the high grade titanium feedstock market remained relatively stable.
Sulphate feedstock prices remain under pressure, as structural overcapacity persists within China.
Given the quality of GCO zircon, its major customer markets tend to be North America and Europe where demand is geared towards premium quality zircon for high value zirconium products and opacifiers for ceramic tiles. This market has been relatively stable during the quarter.