The processing pathway of our operations commences at our Steelpoortdrift Project with the open pit mining of titaniferous vanadium ore which is then put through an onsite concentrator (using magnetic separation) for its primary treatment, converting the ore to a vanadium rich concentrate. The concentrate from the Steelpoortdrift Project is then sent to our Tweefontein Project where it undergoes a secondary treatment through a Salt Roast Leach (SRL) plant to produce a >98% V2O5 flake. The onsite concentrator at Steelpoortdrift and the SRL plant at Tweefontein have both been designed using established technology which is currently in use both within the Bushveld region and internationally.
The location of each project is shown in Figure 1, with the Steelpoortdrift Project consisting of the mine site and concentrator (located within the “Mine Concession”) and the Tweefontein Project housing the SRL site adjacent to the Steelpoortdrift Industrial Park, which is 15km away (23km by road). Under the DFS, the transport of concentrate to the SRL site will be completed by trucks, however the Company is currently investigating the potential to use a rope conveyor to lower ESG metrics, reduce disruption to local communities and lower operating costs.
Figure 1 Location of Mine Site and SRL Site
All mining will be undertaken from surface via conventional open pit mining methods. Three open pits have been designed within the low impact inclusion zone located between the Shakwaneng and Magagamahubedu rivers (Figure1). Pit 1 is the northern most pit and contains an estimated 54.45Mt of ore at an average grade of 0.72% V2O5. Pit 2 is situated south of Pit 1 and contains an estimated 26.23Mt of ore at an average grade of 0.69% V2O5. Pit 3 is the southern most pit and contains an estimated 2.83Mt of ore at an average grade of 0.73% V2O5. Mining will commence in Pit 2, followed by Pit 1 and finally Pit 3.
In the first four years of operation the Steelpoirtdrift Project is expected to mine ~1.6Mt of vanadium ore per year, this will double when the operations expand to Stage 2.
The concentrator plant is based on a proven flowsheet, consisting of a two-stage crushing circuit, ball milling, wet magnetic separation, dewatering, and re-grind magnetic separation areas, and will be constructed at the mine site. The concentrator plant will receive run of mine (ROM) ore at a feed rate of 208tph to produce a concentrate of 2.08-2.16% V2O5.
Under Stage 1 operations the Steelpoortdrift Project is expected to produce ~720kt of concentrate per annum (increasing to ~1.4Mt in Stage 2). The vanadium rich concentrate will be transported to our Tweefontein Project to be processed into a final product.
Figure 3 Proposed Concentrator Plant
The Tweefontein Project will receive a vanadium rich concentrate from the Steelpoortdrift Project (via trucks or rope conveyor) and will be responsible for completing additional processing of the concentrate through a Salt Roast Leach (SRL) Plant to produce a final product of >98% Vanadium Pentoxide flake (V2O5). The SRL plant comprises several steps including kiln roasting, leaching, desilication, AMV precipitation, flash drying and V2O5 flake production. The designed plant also includes an evaporation and crystallisation component to recover Na2SO4 crystals for recirculation to the kiln. Initially the SRL plant at the Tweeefontein Project will produce an average of 10,700t of V2O5 flake per annum (capacity of ~12ktpa), once Stage 2 of our operations commences the production rate will increase to an average rate of 21,000t of V2O5 per annum (capacity increases to ~24ktpa).
Figure 4 Proposed SRL Plant