Progress for Goldplat and the Kilimapesa Gold project
African gold producer’s Goldplat has announced the successful commissioning of the first stage of the new processing plant at Kilimapesa Gold Limited in Kenya.
With a designed capacity of 200 tonnes per day, the plant will consist of a crusher circuit; mills; a thickener; leach tanks; an elution plant as well as a tailings deposition facility.
The project has been split into three stages:
- Stage One: commissioning of the plant excluding the crusher circuit, which the company has announced the completion of
- Stage Two: installation of the crusher circuit and three additional leach tanks
- Stage Three: installation of a second mill and a further three additional leach tanks.
In 2016 a project was announced to install a new processing plant and tailings deposition facility, at a site in close proximity to the Kilimapesa Hill underground mine, to increase production volume and gold production, decrease operating costs, optimise overhead costs and to return Kilimapesa to profitability.
Stage One commissioning began in December 2016 and has progressed on time and on budget. During the latter months of 2016, a stockpile of 6,000 tonnes of crushed ore was created, which is sufficient to feed/supply the plant until the crusher circuit and additional leaching capacity is commissioned. A key cut for the tailings facility has been constructed and tailings are currently being deposited into a borrow pit contained within the final tailings dam footprint. Plans are underway to increase the size of the final tailings facility in the near term to further reduce costs.
As of the end of January 2017, that production is at the planned Stage One rate of 60 tonnes per day, which if maintained, and together with ongoing production from the existing plant, equates to an annualised 4,600 ounces of gold production, compared to the 2,005 ounces of gold produced during the 2016 financial year. At this production rate the mine should be profitable and in a position to begin repaying loans.
Stage Two installation of the crusher circuit and an additional three leach tanks has begun and commissioning is expected during April 2017. At this stage the new plant is expected to process 120 tonnes per day and once the plant is fully commissioned and producing at steady state, an annualised rate of roughly 4,500 ounces of gold is planned. The old plant will continue to produce roughly 2,300 ounces of gold per year as long as tailings capacity exists, resulting in a potential total production rate of 6,800 ounces of gold per year.
Stage Three will be planned and commenced based on the performance of the operation once steady state is achieved.
The new processing plant is scheduled to be opened by the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Mining, Honourable Dan Kazungu, during an official opening ceremony on site planned for 16 February 2017.
Gerard Kisbey-Green, CEO of Goldplat said, "Although it is modest in terms of production, we believe it will result in the commencement of sustainable profitability at Kilimapesa. Having achieved a production rate of 60 tonnes per day, following the successful implementation of Stage One, I believe we have already proven that we made the right decision. The team on the ground has done a sterling job in adhering to schedules and to budget and we look forward to progressing to final commissioning in due course."
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British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.