Mining Exploration & Definitive Feasibility Studies

Mining Exploration & Definitive Feasibility Studies

by Ina King (Potgieter) November 14, 2019

A mining feasibility study is an evaluation of a proposed mining project to determine whether the mineral resource can be mined economically. Feasibility studies are important throughout the pre-production stage of every mining project to justify continued investment.

The Risky Business of Mining

Africa is home to some of the world’s most intriguing mines and mining projects and has the world’s largest and fastest growing minerals industry. Knowing where to invest isn’t always simple. Mining is more prone to risk than most businesses and often projects initiated fail to achieve their expectations in terms of cost and timing or operational performance such as the size of reserves or grade recovery. Determining the feasibility of a mineral property may be simple or sophisticated but always has one primary goal – to demonstrate that the project is economically viable if it is designed, constructed and operated appropriately. The feasibility study defines the ore reserves, the mining methods, the mineral processing concepts and the scale of the project.

Minerals in Africa

Geology tends to be regional and geological endowments tend to be similar in many regards. This is important for two main reasons: more than ever the need to share geological information across the region and for countries to share experiences. We need to see mining mineral resources as regional projects because processing on a competitive level will bring economic returns. Rwanda, Tanzania, the DRC, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa are just some of the countries where new mineral deposits have been discovered. Whether or not mining these deposits is feasible is a question of time and study.

Definitive Feasibility Studies (DFS)

DFS (Definitive Feasibility Study) is the basis for a commitment to proceed with project development, detailed design and construction. The aim of the study is to remove all significant uncertainties and to present the relevant information with back-up material in a concise and accessible way.

final feasabiltyThe final feasibility study has 5 objectives:

  1. To remove significant doubt and to present relevant information about referenced material.

  2. To provide a basis for detailed design and construction.

  3. To demonstrate within a reasonable confidence that the project can be constructed and operated in a technically sound and economically viable manner.

  4. To enable the raising of finance for the project from banks or other sources.

  5. To factor in a level of contingency based on historical experience.

A Case in Point: Waterberg South Africa

The Waterberg Platinum Project is located about 85 km north of Mokopane and situated north of the Bushveld Complex. Presence of PGE bearing zones or reefs with significant potential for platinum, palladium and gold, with grade thickness which exceeds a lot of the world's platinum mines. The Waterberg Deposit comes within 100 m of the surface at a time where deep shafts are the norm.

he Waterberg Platinum Project was discovered in 2011 when regional and surface mapping was undertaken by the Council for Geoscience. In 2012, Platinum Group Metals Ltd. announced the discovery of thick high-grade reefs. An initial 6.6 million ounce platinum, palladium and gold Inferred Resource was announced for the Waterberg Project in September of that year. In mid-2013, 52 new platinum, palladium and gold intercepts were discovered. In October 2016, Platinum Group Metals Ltd. announced that its Waterberg Platinum Project would create 3 361 jobs and be one of the biggest PGM mining complexes in South Africa. Underground, fully-mechanised mining work-force training, primarily sourced from the local communities, is also being investigated. The Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS) is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Conclusion

The Waterberg Platinum Project is just one of the 143 Feasibility Projects that AMIQ follows. South African mining is changing the focus from labour intensive mining, to bulk mechanised production. The Waterberg Platinum Project is well placed to benefit from this movement. The project has been confirmed as a theoretically low-cost, shallow mechanised ore-body vital for future expansion.

With new projects requiring new equipment, products and services launching all the time, Africa Mining IQ makes it easy for you to help shape the future of mining in Africa.

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