New Zimbabwe.com

$26m Bindura nickel smelter restart underway

PLANS are under way to restart a nickel smelter at Trojan nickel mine, owned by mining company Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC), a subsidiary of Pan-African multi-commodity resources company Mwana Africa.
The company announced in June that an independent study of an accelerated restart plan for the nickel smelter, of which Mwana owns 76.3%, had been completed.
Mwana Africa CEO Kalaa Mpinga says the overall capital cost to execute the restart of the nickel smelter, which is based in Bindura, is estimated to be $26.5-million.
Half of this capital cost will be funded through debt financing, with the remainder to be financed from existing BNC cash flow and company cash balances, says Mpinga.
“The completion of the independent study paves the way for us to capitalise on the opportunity presented by a favourable nickel market,” he says.
The study, conducted by engineering consulting firm Hatch Goba, involved a technical and economic assessment of the potential refurbishment and restart plans of the smelter complex.
Mwana Africa plans to have the smelter in operation by 2015 and to have it contribute to the company’s cash flow by 2016, says Mpinga.
He tells Mining Weekly that the installed power for the smelter’s furnace is 14 MW and that concentrate throughput will be 160 000 t/y.
Trojan mine’s concentrate production is expected to be 106 677 wet metric tons a year, thereby allowing for spare capacity on the smelter to treat material from other sources, at cost.
One of the main benefits of restarting the smelter is its potential to increase Mwana Africa’s revenue, as the smelter enables BNC to produce and sell higher-value nickel leach alloy.
“We can increase our revenue stream by moving rapidly up the value chain from current production and sale of concentrate to production and sale of higher-value nickel leach alloy,” explains Mpinga.
He adds that the smelter can also be adapted to treat platinum-group metals (PGMs). The BNC refinery, which is currently under maintenance, can also be restarted to treat nickel leach alloy and PGMs in the future.
Beyond the restarting of the smelter at Trojan mine, BNC will potentially increase the volume of its nickel production through the development of its Hunter’s Road nickel deposit, located in the Gweru-Midlands South Greenstone belt.Advertisement