Vedanta Zinc has re-launched the BMM Magnetite Project, an innovation opportunity identified to create value from waste by extracting magnetite iron ore from processing the current Black Mountain Operations zinc plant tailings stream. Black Mountain Mining (BMM) comprises the Deeps and Swartberg Shafts, and the Gamsberg zinc mine and plant in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province. The project has the potential to reduce BMM’s cost of production by $30$500/t and therefore extend the life of the operations.


The project was originally proposed back in 2013/2014 and the company initiated a successful pilot plant and tested the viability of producing marketable magnetite concentrate, with over 10,000 t of concentrate produced and sold. At the time, transporting the magnetite concentrate from the remote mining complex in Aggeneys to the customer (domestic or export) was the biggest challenge and this remains the case.

BMM has invited expressions of interest for aspects of the project including magnetite transporation to market but also “suitable EPC, construction, technology, major equipment, and innovative solution (automation, digitalisation etc) partners to set up a 700,000 t/y modular iron ore (magnetite) plant” producing two products: sinter/pellet feed and DMS feed products. The process envisaged will include but not limited to conventional magnetic separation, grinding, and flotation. The plant will be based next to the current Tailings Storage Facility at BMM in Aggeneys.

Ultimately, BMM is looking to potentially produce up to 2-3 Mt/y of magnetite from both the current TSF but also a new TSF associated with Gamsberg Phase II, which will see production of zinc-in-concentrate increase to 450,000 t/y and in a modular fashion ultimately, to 600,000 t/y. Phase II will see the Gamsberg open pit production double from 4 Mt/y ROM to 8 Mt/y and will require a second 4 Mt/y concentrator hence will involve another tailings stream. First concentrate is expected in FY 2022.

A feasibility study into the development and construction of a zinc smelter-refinery complex to process Gamsberg concentrates is also underway. The establishment of the proposed beneficiation plant will make Gamsberg a fully integrated zinc production site, with the mine, concentrator and smelter-refinery complex at a single location, making it the first fully integrated zinc manufacturing facility in South Africa.

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