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Rainfall affects phosphate mining

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Rainfall affects phosphate mining
Elandsfontein is making strategic investments in new equipment that will enable the plant to handle and process the challenging slimes material more effectively. Image credit: Kropz Elandsfontein

Rainfall affects phosphate mining

Rainfall in SA’s Western Cape has negatively affected phosphate production at Kropz’s Elandsfontein mine.

AIM listed Kropz’s Elandsfontein is South Africa’s second largest phosphate deposit. After several stop-starts over the last few years the mine entered its trail production phase last year but faced significant challenges due to unprecedented rainfall in the Western Cape region of South Africa.

Although Kropz recorded revenue of USD30.2-million for the twelve months ended 31 December 2023, it says in a statement that the heavy and persistent rains, combined with large volumes of in-pit water, resulted in severely wet mining conditions, posing obstacles to the operations.

To address this issue, Kropz Elandsfontein has undertaken various measures, with a primary focus on increasing in-pit drainage to alleviate the waterlogged conditions in the mining areas and implementing ore stockpiling and blending strategies.

Rainfall affects phosphate mining

Furthermore, Kropz states that the extent of the ultra-fines (natural slimes) in the ore encountered has also limited production throughput.

In response, Kropz Elandsfontein is making strategic investments in new equipment that will enable the plant to handle and process the challenging slimes material more effectively.

Elandsfontein aims to increase its production throughput by more than 40% following commissioning of the new equipment. The project is expected to be fully operational by the end of the second quarter of 2024.

In addition to addressing the wet mining conditions, Kropz Elandsfontein continues employing separating and stockpiling techniques of the various ore materials encountered at Elandsfontein.

The company is in process of analysing and testing the various ore types being stockpiled to identify and refine the appropriate method of mining and processing to drive efficiencies.

The Elandsfontein mine is still in its trial production phase and further challenges can be expected as it progresses towards full production.

First shipment and sales  

Meanwhile, Elandsfontein recorded its first bulk shipments and trail sales with a total of 262,703 tonnes of phosphate concentrate sales over the 12 months ending 31 December 2023.

Elandsfontein, however, achieved lower sales price compared to the prevailing market price. As a new entrant in the market, in order to gain market share Elandsfontein was required to offer discounted pricing to market participants.

Furthermore, Elandsfontein produced lower grade phosphate product as part of its ramp-up operations, which also impacted the sales price. Elandsfontein is aiming to achieve better prices going forward in the market going forward as both quality and market reputation improves.

The company further states that sales volumes are below exceptions due to the lack of available stock on hand mainly because of the negative impact of seasonal rain on production.

Building a customer base

Elandsfontein’s rock phosphate has been qualified at customers in South Korea, Australia, and Brazil at both single superphosphate and Phosphoric acid producers.

Since the start of the 2024 Calendar year, Kropz’s core customer base was narrowed down to focus on South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, where the special properties of Kropz Rock Phosphate (Low Cadmium, – toxic metals, – moisture, – odour and – CaO levels) are complementary to country rules dictating the final product properties.

Shipments and sales of 77,000 tonnes of phosphate concentrate from Kropz Elandsfontein were recorded in Q1 2024.

Management expects there to be more than sufficient demand for Elandsfontein’s Rock Phosphate forecast production to the end of 2024. Two shipments have been planned for qualification trials in both India and Europe to further diversify the customer base.

Rainfall affects phosphate mining

Rainfall affects phosphate mining
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Rainfall affects phosphate mining

 

 

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