African Minerals Limited, a mineral and diamond exploration and production company focused on the West African country of Sierra Leone is currently developing its Tonkolili iron ore project in Sierra Leone, with a JORC compliant resource of 12.8Bnt.
The project which has a 60+ year mine-life is being developed in phases with current operations expected to produce 20 million tons of iron ore per annum at full capacity and this is expected to be achieved in the Q2 2013.
The next stage of expansion now considering the production of up to 35Mtpa of 64% high grade hematite concentrate, and the expansion of current port facilities at Pepel expected to enter production in 2016.
Following a recent scoping level review of expansion options, the company now intends to expand the existing rail and port infrastructure at Pepel rather than develop a new port at Tagrin Point.
The total capital expenditure on the revised expansion plan is estimated to be circa $2Billion, with cash costs similar or lower than the current direct shipping ore phase.
Expansion of the existing infrastructure has brought in significant benefits, since embarking on a new greenfields construction would have meant the relocation of communities and the development of a new EIA which would have resulted in an unforeseen project delays.
The expansion of the existing infrastructure has resulted in a substantial capital savings of circa $1Bn, and reduced risk, lower social and development impact.
In addition, after the board’s approval the development will also encompass a modular, sequentially constructed process plant, modification to the existing narrow gauge rail including double tracks where necessary with additional rolling stock, additional dredging and the construction of a second major ship-loading facility and wagon dumper at Pepel.
Early works on the revised expansion have already begun to further refine project engineering design.