Trigon advances towards commercial production

Trigon Metal’s Kombat mine close to Tsumeb in Namibia is advancing towards achieving commercial production. Image credit: Trigon Metals

Trigon advances towards commercial production

Trigon Metal’s Kombat mine close to Tsumeb in Namibia is advancing towards achieving commercial production.

The restart of the Kombat Mine has been a tremendous achievement for Trigon and its shareholders, as well as the Kombat community and for Namibia. The mine employs 220 Namibians both directly and as contractors. An additional 80 women are employed on a part-time rotational basis as part of the company’s community garden agricultural development project.

To date 1.1 million tonnes of material have been mined, including pre-stripping. About 120 775 tonnes have been mined at an average grade of 0.92% copper and 6.9 g/t silver. In excess of 34 762 tonnes of ore grading 0.85% copper and 10.97 g/t silver have been fed into the mill and processed, producing 861.4 tonnes of concentrate grading 19.75% copper and 271.3 g/t silver.

To date, 548 tonnes of concentrate have been shipped and revenue received. According to Jed Richardson, President and CEO of Trigon Metals the Kombat mine is advancing towards achieving commercial production. “During this process, a number of challenges arose that were addressed successfully. A new loan facility was arranged, the processing plant capacity was increased to 350 tonnes per day and a second open pit, which will soon be yielding higher grade sulphide ore, was developed,” says Richardson.

Mill Flexibility

Through the start-up, the ore has been highly oxidised and the feed grade has been highly variable, resulting in the production of some low-quality concentrates. Through March and April, the processing plant team completed the final upgrade of the mill. The process included the installation of reagent dosing pumps to improve the accuracy of dosing as the reagent dosing had previously been erratic. Over this period, the plant also underwent a variety of upgrades with the aim of increasing plant capacity and reliability. Some of the key tasks completed include:

  • Changing the secondary crusher 2 from obsolete 2.4kV spares to 525V supply to ensure reliability.
  • Cleaning build-up from fines silos to increase available storage capacity
  • Improving ball mills feed chute distribution to ensure a stable flow
  • Changing the design of the bagging plant to ensure material of the correct consistency is bagged at the required rate to meet daily requirements

A key component of the upgrade was the installation of additional flotation cells, anticipated benefits of which include:

  • Increased flotation retention time.
  • Ability to float oxides and sulphides separately.
  • Ability to produce Cu and Pb concentrates.

At present, the processing plant has the capacity to produce in excess of 350 tonnes per week. Production is constrained by mine production.

Mining Throughput

High oxidation and variability of the ore in the open pit mining blocks has slowed mining output. In February, mining moved to mining smaller benches and requiring a higher volume of samples including blast hole sampling to get control of grade.

This was effective in April, with head grades averaging 1.7% well above the 1.0% target, but it slowed down mining, falling below the mill capacity. The primary problem was the cycle time for confirmation sampling.

In June, a mobile XRF sampling team was created and deployed to the mining pit giving the mining team instant feedback and allowing mining speeds to increase.

In addition, mining has begun in the Kavango pit a parallel structure to the Central pit where all of the ore has been sourced to date. The nature of the mineralization in the Kavango pit is more massive, larger higher grade mining blocks, that are expected to allow for higher mining output compared to stringy highly variable vein swarms mined in the Central pit. Currently, highly oxidized ore is being mined at Kavango as the team benches down to the sulphide ore. The mill should start receiving higher grade, high recovery ore from Kavango in the next two weeks.

WhyAfrica will visit the Kombat operation as part of its Southern Africa Road Trip tomorrow.

The WhyAfrica Southern Africa Overland Road Trip will take us through five countries in 44 days. During this time, we will drive more than 9700km on the good roads, the bad roads, dirt roads and tarred roads, to visit close to 30 projects in the mining, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, tourism, conservation, and development sectors.

 This trip is made possible by:

 WhyAfrica will visit the Kombat operation as part of its Southern Africa Road Trip tomorrow.

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