Sustainable mining a must to meet demand

Industrial recycling creating value from waste is fast becoming a necessity and increasingly presents both incredible business opportunities and environmentally sound practice, writes Dan Webber, CDE regional manager Australasia.

Protecting finite natural resources and extracting value from what has typically been considered waste is essential in the face of increasing demand for quality metals, sand, coal and other materials, the growth of the power and energy sector and growing environmental legislation.

The mining waste management market is estimated to reach 233.56 billion tons by 2022, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.1 per cent from 2017–2022, according to Markets & Markets Mining Waste Management Market by Mining Method — Global Forecast to 2022, and forecasts from the United Nations predict resource consumption will double by 2060.

CDE Meta – Mining-focused sector of CDE

CDE Meta is the mining-focused sector of CDE — the world’s largest wet processing company with some 2000 projects around the world co-created with customers over the past 25 years — and operates in Australia under registered company CDE Australia Pty.

The sector focuses on delivering sustainable mine operations through ore upgrade, tailings diversion and waste dump reprocessing in line with CDE’s commitment to creating a “New World of Resource”.

That expertise has already been recognised with CDE Meta, a finalist in the Excellence in Environmental Management category at the Australian Prospect Awards 2018, alongside household names Rio Tinto and Roy Hill Holdings.

CDE Meta made the shortlist for its “pioneering approach to mining waste”, transforming more than 17 million tonnes of overburden waste in South Australia into high grade iron ore for steel production.

Pioneering approach to mining waste

That pioneering approach to mining waste was paramount in 2017 when CDE Meta delivered two turnkey wet processing plants to upgrade 100 plus years of legacy overburden waste from the mining of the Iron Monarch and Iron Princess deposits situated in South Australia’s Middleback Ranges.

The plants located at the previously Arrium-owned Iron Knob and Iron Baron sites were acquired by the GFG Alliance and renamed SIMEC Mining.

The two wash plants were designed to convert 17 million tonnes of low-grade iron ore stockpiled as tailings in waste dumps to a saleable product.

The low-grade iron ore to be processed has been accumulated over the life of mining of the Iron Monarch and Iron Princess deposits which first began in 1899 and the Iron Baron deposit in 1930.

These beneficiation plants take low-grade iron ore, stockpiled as tailings and convert it to a 63 per cent grade.

The wash plants have a 950 tonnes per hour combined feed throughput and are upgrading a 43.4–52.7 per cent iron ore up to 63 per cent iron at 50 per cent product yield.

Boost for SIMEC Mining and Local Economy

Operating around the clock, this project funded by a $49.2 million loan from the South Australian government, provides a vital revenue source to SIMEC, Whyalla and the wider SA region. Some 1000 jobs have been created and $25 million injected into the local economy.

Not only providing extensive return on investment through iron upgrade, the by-product aggregate produced from ore recovery is stockpiled and sold to the construction industry further minimising waste while 90 per cent of water used for washing is recycled for immediate reuse in the system.

Junior Mining Companies Seek CAPEX Reductions and OPEX Control

While CDE Meta provides solutions for top mining companies with legacy waste for processing or tailings dams containing valuable fractions which can be extracted with CDE equipment, junior mining companies are now turning their sights to the company for solutions.

An integral element to CDE design is a fully modular solution with a small plant footprint. This ‘plug and play’ approach delivers faster, safer installation requiring minimal civils and creating significant CAPEX cost reductions. It also requires considerably less energy to operate versus traditional stick-build operations. That, combined with innovative high efficiency equipment, reduces electric usage providing maximum OPEX control.

The result is a modular wet processing solution designed bespoke to customer requirements and built exactly to meet production needs.

Phosphate Plant Reduces Imports from Morocco

Take for example Centrex Metals Ltd which has invested in a state-of-the-art CDE wet processing solution to create a concentrate from the company’s phosphate rock deposit at its Ardmore Phosphate Rock Project on the Mount Isa-Boulia Highway in North West Queensland.

This plant, which is currently in factory pre-assembly, will prove the value of the concentrated ore as a 70 tonne per hour pilot plant before moving to full scale production at 140 tonne per hour in 2020.

The company is committed to providing an alternative to the high level of imports of fertilisers around 1 million tonnes per year mainly from Morocco.

The project is significant, considering Australia’s economic demonstrated resources (EDR) of phosphate rock comprises about one per cent of the world’s resources, the country ranking 10th in the world.

In fact, the Ardmore site is one of the few remaining under-developed phosphate rock deposits in the world focused on producing high quality phosphate rock concentrate to deliver this vital commodity to fertiliser plants in Australia.

Centrex expects to produce 776,000 tonnes of premium grade phosphate rock concentrate, equivalent to 800,000 wet tonnes per annum at the target shipping level of 3 per cent moisture.

To ensure perfect results, the pilot plant will wash, scrub and de-slime a free-digging ore material to produce premium 35 per cent P2O5 and ultra-low cadmium phosphate rock concentrate ready for the manufacturing of phosphoric acid.

CDE has also provided a water recycling system comprising its innovative AquaCycle technology to ensure maximum water recovery in this challenging remote location.

Centrex managing director and chief executive officer Ben Hammond said at the time of the investment: “To deliver this target over the estimated 10-year lifetime of the mine, we required a reliable and resilient wet processing solution to remove the fine gangue after the high-grade ore has been crushed to meet sizing specifications. Our research showed that CDE could deliver a solution that fully met our requirements.”

CDE Meta is transforming the world’s approach to mining operations, challenging companies to rethink what they consider a low value or waste product and paving the way towards a zero-tailings mining economy – and unlocking that essential New World of Resource needed to grow the world of tomorrow.

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