Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio recently commissioned a 3.25 million dry metric tonnes per annum (Mdtpa) output iron ore concentrate expansion project at Marampa Mines.

President Bio met with the principals of Gerald, management of Gerald and MML, staff and stakeholders and toured MML’s mining areas and processing plant.

When restarting production at the Marampa mine on 1 September 2021, MML immediately set to work on construction of the expansion of the project from 2.0 (M2.0 phase) Mdtpa to 3.25 Mdtpa (M3.25 phase) of >65% Fe iron ore concentrate branded Marampa BlueTM. Construction of M3.25 completed in March and with the expansion and ramp up, the total number of direct and indirect employees on site increased to over 2 000 by the end of March 2022.

In his keynote statement, President Bio, said, “I am pleased to have commissioned the M3.25 expansion at Marampa Mines today. As a country, we have had to manage the Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted global economies and supply chains. But with the Marampa mine back in full scale operations, exports of high value products such as Marampa BlueTM iron ore concentrate from Sierra Leone will increase year on year and deliver a long-awaited boost to the economic growth and stability of our country. I share my sense of hope and confidence with all of you for the continued success of the Marampa mines and for new inward investment in our natural resources sectors across Sierra Leone.”

Craig Dean, Chairman and CEO, Gerald Group and Marampa Mines Limited said, “I would like to thank His Excellency President Bio, the Government and our stakeholders for their strong confidence and support in Marampa Mines Limited over the past year, as well as our management and staff who are deeply committed to the expansion program underway. Our shared vision is to optimise the beneficiation of up to ~1.7 billion tonnes of compliant resources in the new Marampa, which combines Marampa North and South concessions, bringing additional revenues to the GoSL and creating opportunities by developing a sustainable and resilient mining operation so Sierra Leoneans significantly benefit from MML’s growth and success.”

Keynote statements were also made by Timothy Musa Kabba, Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Alpha Kanu, Resident Minister of the North-western Region, Queen Kabia II, Chief of Marampa Chiefdom and Elaine French, Chargé d’affairs, U.S. Embassy, Freetown.

Details of the expansion project

In the company’s presentation, Frederic Lotti, MML’s COO explained, “The M3.25 expansion mainly includes the addition of a new feed point and a new product line to accommodate the additional feed and product volume, as well as the addition of new set of spiral blocks to increase processing capacity, and an expansion of the mining fleet with large 90MT capacity excavators to increase mine volume rate.” Lotti also presented MML’s expansion plan for 7 Mdtpa output, more than doubling current plant nameplate capacity.

The high Fe content in the Marampa BlueTM product helps to achieve a lower carbon footprint for MML’s customers (in the steelmaking process) and in the supply chain (route to market), allowing MML to play a role in the world’s energy transition process. MML’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives are aimed at embracing the challenges relating to climate change, women in the workforce (currently women make up ~17% of MML’s direct employees), farming and education through development of sustainable projects that make a meaningful difference in our host communities.

MML is working in parallel on the modernisation and digital transformation of our equipment monitoring, supply chain and finance management systems. Implementation of these systems will result in paperless processes and the utilisation of online tools and mobile devices by our staff performing these functions. Instrumentation will implement big data collection capability to allow Operation and Maintenance teams to monitor the performance and health of equipment remotely and in a far more efficient way.

Gerald Group plans to further expand MML’s output to 7 Mdtpa (M7) within the next year, bringing material capital investment to the country. As part of the expansion process, options to access additional power and renewable or lower carbon intensive sources of energy is under consideration. Discussion for operational access to Pepel’s rail and port facilities are underway and will contribute significantly to MML’s streamlining of export operations and reduction in carbon footprint, key components to ensure the future competitiveness and sustainability of the mining operations.

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