A change in its market for its Coarse Sinter Product (CSP) produced at opencast Sishen mine led to an innovative upgrade to Kumba Iron Ore’s processing plant.

“Previously the client marketed its Coarse Sinter (CS) product as a premium fine ore. However, demand for the product disappeared when the client’s main customer changed its requirements. As a result, the CS required crushing to fines which added considerable additional operating costs for the fine ore crushers as well as a loss of revenue due to the lower price of the fines product,” says Ric Fry, project manager at DRA Minerals Processing (DRA-MP), a local process engineering, construction and project management group.

“A decision was then taken to upgrade its processing plant to produce a saleable product using the existing infrastructure. The 10 mm Lump Project, as the upgrade became known as, would see the CS separated into a coarse and fine fraction. The coarse fraction would then be blended into the existing DMS and Jig lump product in order to change the lump undersize from 8 mm to 6.3 mm. At the same time the fines fraction would feed into the DMS fine product beds, changing the DMS fines product top size to 6.3mm. Sishen’s lump product is highly valued by the steel industry as it can be fed directly into a blast furnace without the need for pelletising.”

DRA-MP undertook the design and engineering of the R159 million brownfields project on an EPCM basis which would include a conveying system comprising four units with a combined length of 68 m together with transfer towers, chutes, take-up structures, Geoscan support structures, electrical, control and instrumentation systems for co-stacking and distributing the Modified Coarse Sinter (MCS) product to both Jig and DMS lump product beds.

“Cognisance was taken of the fact that the plant operates on a 24/7 basis so design, construction and commissioning were planned so as to avoid impacting negatively on the client’s other product streams. The upgrade came online on 24 December 2012, 15 months after commencement. One of the important factors that led to the success of this project was the synergy among all of the teams involved from DRA-MP, the contractors and the client, ensuring a smooth operation from start to finish.”

“By taking a proactive approach to an unforeseen event, Kumba, with the help of DRA-MP, was able to ensure the profitability of its product by simply modifying its processes, maintaining its reputation as a low cost producer. This is of particular importance at a time when budgets are tight and commodity markets are volatile.”

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