First Quantum laments low smelting capacity in Zambia as weir Minerals Africa joins other engineers at Kalubila-Trident site

First Quantum Minerals Limited has lamented the constrained copper smelting capacity in Zambia which has negatively affected the company’s annual profits recorded at its Kansanshi unit in Solwezi, north western province, a company official says. 

Chief executive officer and Chairperson Phillip Pascall said inadequate smelting capacity forced a build-up in the copper concentrate inventory at the global mining giant’s Kansanshi Mine in Zambia for the greater part of last year, the Times of Zambia reported.

Gross profit globally was unfavourably impacted by US$313 million from lower commodity prices and the build-up in copper concentrate inventory at Kansanshi,” said Pascall. Despite challenges in adjusting to the constrained smelting capacity in the country, First Quantum Minerals Limited continued to register significant growth in annual copper production at Kansanshi throughout 2013. The company had at the end of 2013, produced 270, 724 tones of copper compared to 261, 351 tons produced in 2012. 

Meanwhile, FQML recently successfully constructed and commissioned the stage two expansion of the Kansanshi oxide circuit and also completed 75 per cent construction works on the $2.4 billion Sentinel Mine at Kalumbila.

Sentinel project recently passed 13 million man hours and is 75 per cent complete overall, tracking for construction completion as planned,” Pascall added. The Sentinel processing plant design is already complete and the facility is set for commissioning in July 2014.

When commissioned probably next year, the US$2 billion Sentinel will produce 300,000 tons of copper per annum and boost Zambia’s production of the metal to beyond one million tons of the metal. Meanwhile as exploration and finalization works take shape at the Zambian Greenfield mine, many globally reputed engineering companies have taken a stake in ensuring the project takes off as scheduled with the state-of the art-equipment put in place to ensure it contributes to the country’s forecast copper outturn growth to over 1 million tones by next year.

One of the major companies that are expected to be part of the development at Trident Kalumbila project is the Weir Minerals Africa. The company says  in addition to the major cyclone package currently being installed at First Quantum Minerals Limited’s new Sentinel copper project in Northern Zambia,  Weir Minerals Africa has been awarded two more packages — one for Sentinel and the other for Enterprise nickel, which are also part of the greater Trident project. 

In a statement to Mining News Zambia, The first order placed in mid-2012, represented one of the biggest cyclone cluster installations of its kind ever supplied by Weir Minerals Africa into an African application and included two 12x 650CVX cyclone clusters for the SAG mill application and four 16x 650CVX cyclone clusters for the ball mill classification duties.

The commissioning of the- state- of- the- art equipment is scheduled for the second quarter of 2014, the company adds.  Its subsequent package for Sentinel comprises more than 50 Warman AH horizontal centrifugal slurry and AHF horizontal froth pumps, ranging in size from small to large and 55 Warman vertical spindle pumps capable of handling large volumes. 

This package also includes the supply of 611 Isogateknife gate slurry valves ranging from 2” to 48” in size with manual, pneumatic and hydraulic actuation and a high pressure range of 24” high pressure Isogate knife gate slurry valves that include Isogate WS, WB, WBP and WH units. It is one of the biggest Isogate® knife gate valve orders that Weir Minerals Africa has received on the continent to date. 

The third package comprises of all the cyclones needed on the Enterprise nickel project — one cluster of 10 Cavex  500CVX hydrocyclones and two clusters of four Cavex 500CVX hydrocyclones for installation at the Enterprise ball and SAG mills.  As with the earlier Sentinel package, all Weir Minerals Africa cyclone clusters are designed and manufactured in South Africa. The company will also supply 53 horizontal Warman AH slurry pumps and AHF froth pumps as part of this order, Weir Minerals Africa’s process manager, JD Singleton, says.

All these products will be serviced by the Weir Minerals Africa service centre in Kitwe, Zambia, as part of its aftermarket service support for the life of mine. This includes stockholding of spare parts, with backup from the company’s product specialists based in Isando, South Africa.  “We have a very long history of supplying our technology to First Quantum, both in Africa and in countries such as Australia and Finland,” He adds.

The fact that all the Cavex cyclones being supplied incorporate Isogate knife gate valves and our proprietary Linatex linings proves once again that we’re able to provide complete process packages, supported by our service crews close to the customer’s operations.”

Being awarded three packages for the Trident project is a clear indication that the market has fully recognised our transition from a historical slurry pump supplier to a world class manufacturer of a host of complementary products, including large cyclone clusters, valves and Linatex rubber linings.”

Warman pumps are well proven in similar applications worldwide, but these are locally engineered, manufactured and supported here in Africa.

“Our proprietary Cavex hydrocyclone technology is thoroughly established in the Zambian copperbelt, complemented by Linatex rubber lining for superior abrasion resistance and our Isogate knife gate valves are designed for highly abrasive and corrosive applications, also incorporating Linatex elastomer technology for improved performance,” says Singleton. 

These Isogatevalves are designed to eliminate rapid wear of valve liners, sticking and leakage to the atmosphere during operation, which effectively minimises downtime and reduces the risk of disruption during operation.

For all Weir Minerals Africa-supplied clusters, it is standard practice for the technical team to conduct a complete dummy assembly prior to the application of rubber linings, to allow for final modifications. This practice is also included as a standard holding point in the company’s quality control programme and is witnessed by the customer.

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