When Zinc International’s Gamsberg project begins production in mid-2018, it will supply a market that is both rising and under-served.
It will also show the efficiencies and capabilities of a mine that, from the outset, has been conceived as a smart digital facility (see below).
As we go to print, the project, located in South Africa’s Northern Cape, is a hive of activity. Some 2,700 workers are fully mobilised on-site, completing preparations for the launch of Phase I with a production capacity of 250 kt. Over time, this will more than double to 600 kt, once Phases II and III enter production.
Gamsberg’s arrival will be timely, while the global demand for zinc has seen steady growth, the supply side hasn’t kept pace; indeed, the sector has experienced stock constraints and mine closures.
The new facility will not only set new standards of production and safety, but from the blueprint stage onwards, a biodiversity management plan will be in place to ensure Gamsberg’s natural surroundings grow and thrive.
This governs both its construction through the three phases and also production over its projected life of 13 years.
Zinc International has worked in close collaboration with specialist partners GE & MineRP to create a fully integrated technological solution. This includes equipping the development phase of the mine, rather than retrofitting the systems once it is operational.
The digital concept is known as ‘SMART Ore’. It is an end-to-end solution, producing continuous, live data on the mine’s production status, quality of ore and quality of concentrate and mine conditions, enabling instant decision making. It will assist the team to monitor and manage the mining contractor, and adjust the blending strategy based on real-time grade reconciliation. This ensures a constant feed grade to the plant, making the process more efficient and reducing waste. In our pursuit of zero harm, the plant will also boast of a state-of-the-art Collision Awareness System.
We expect this project to deliver substantial savings. We are targeting an initial 0.5% increase in recovery from the concentrator plant, but we also expect improved productivity across geology, mine planning, survey and other key mining disciplines. Indeed, we project savings of at least four man-hours per function per week, once the project is fully operational.