African Minerals, the developer and operator of the Tonkolili iron ore mine in Sierra Leone, yesterday announced the appointment of Ausenco Limited ahead of its Phase II iron ore production.
The expansion,which is expected to produce up to 35Mtpa(million tonnes per annum) of 64% high grade iron ore (hematite concentrate), would also see the development of the current port facilities at Pepel by 2016.
Ausenco, as the engineer for the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) for Phase II of AML’s Tonkolili project, would start to exploit the 1.1 billion tonnesof saprolite portion of the resource.Tonkolili has a JORC (Joint Ore Reserves Committee) compliant resource of 12.8 billion tonnes.
Chief Executive Officer of African Minerals, Bernie Pryor, said:“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Ausenco, who already has a long history and familiarity with our project. Together with the incremental infrastructure growth that we plan to achieve, the freezing of the optimum flowsheet will allow us to confidently embark on this next exciting phase of the development of the Tonkolili deposit, with a higher value product”.
Meanwhile, Ausenco, listed on the Australian stock exchange in 2006 with around 2,800 employees in 29 offices around the globe, would be responsible for assembling the results of the current on site pilot plant work now being carried out by AML to establish flowsheet and design parameters for the first Phase II concentrator, expected to have a design output of up to 10Mtpa.
“The establishment of the flowsheet will allow the optimisation of mass yield and concentrate grade – key components in establishing capital schedules, operating costs, resource life, and also the expected revenue per tonne from this portion of Tonkolili’s production. It is expected that these parameters, and those of the ancillary services including power, will be established in the second quarter of 2014 such that the long lead time elements of equipment can be ordered in good time” the company said in a statement yesterday.
The lead iron ore miner in the country also said it expected that earthworks for the construction of the concentrator would begin at the end of this year, after the 2014 wet season, so that the concentrator would be in production in 2016.
An initial expenditure for the construction of the concentrator and associated facilities would be funded from existing restricted funds of approximately US$300million, with the balance sourced through project level debt finance.
AML was able to demonstrate it could achieve its target of 20Mtpa export run rate during the second quarter of 2013 after its US$1.7billion development of Phase I was fully funded to produce the said amount of direct shipping iron ore per annum at full capacity.