Tharisa, the platinum group metals (PGMs) and chrome co-producer dual-listed on the Johannesburg and London stock exchanges, today announces that cold commissioning of its Vulcan utra-fine chrome recovery and beneficiation plant (“Vulcan”) has commenced.
The timetable to completion of the new US$55 million (~ZAR1 billion) plant remains firmly on track with initial saleable production due before calendar year end.
Once fully commissioned, Tharisa Mine is expected to materially increase its chrome recoveries from
~62% to ~82% resulting in increased chrome production of approximately 20% at low incremental unit operating costs and driving Tharisa further down the cost curve.
The plant, which will process live tailings produced by the independent Voyager and Genesis plants, will ensure further beneficiation of the Company’s chrome production at the Tharisa Mine, while reducing unit output of carbon emissions, aligned with Tharisa’s recently announced decarbonisation plan.
Whilst some final elements of the construction process remain to be completed, Tharisa’s engineering team has commenced cold commissioning, with comprehensive testing of the entire circuit, to be completed prior to chrome tailings material entering the plant. Of the total capex, over 90% was procured locally in South Africa, with up to 1 000 contractors locally sourced and over 100 new permanent jobs created.
Vulcan is the first large scale plant to produce chrome concentrates from chrome ultra-fines, consolidating Tharisa’s position as a key participant in the beneficiation of chrome production. The concept of Vulcan was developed entirely by Arxo Metals Proprietary Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company and housing Tharisa’s in-house R&D team, to extract the ultra-fine chrome from tailings.
With Tharisa Mine near Rustenburg having a 14-year remaining open pit life and a further 40 years underground, Vulcan will ensure maximum value extraction and beneficiation of the chrome ore. The Tharisa Mine has 860 Mt in mineral resource containing 172 Mt in contained Cr2O3 and 42.8m oz PGMs.
Internally funded by Tharisa, Vulcan recommenced construction in October 2020, after the lifting of restrictions by the South African government during the height of wave 1 of the COVID-19 pandemic.