1 February 2010

Publication: Mining Weekly
Author: Esmarie Swanepoel

Minerals and cement company Sephaku would undertake a definitive feasibility study (DFS) into building a beneficiation production facility at its Nokeng fluorspar mine, in Gauteng.

The facility would consist of a sulphuric acid plant, a hydrogen fluoride plant and an aluminum fluoride plant, Sephaku’s fluorite subsidiary said on Monday.

A prefeasibility study on the plant was completed at the end of 2009, through a coordinated effort with mineral adviser Venmyn Rand and input from several independent specialist consultants.

In December, Sephaku announced that it had completed a DFS on the Nokeng project and that it planned to start fluorspar production in 2012.

Sephaku would use the acid-grade fluorspar produced by its planned Nokeng concentrator as the sole feed for the proposed the facility, which would produce 60 000 t/y of aluminum fluoride.

Aluminum fluoride is used as an accelerator in the aluminium smelting process and is not currently produced in South Africa.

Sephaku Holdings CEO Neil Crafford-Lazarus said that the combination of local aluminium fluoride production and economy of the supply would allow Sephaku Fluoride to be one of the lowest cost suppliers of aluminium fluoride in the market.

“Sephaku Fluoride will realise additional profits from the local production of high-quality fluorspar, as well as from the highest quality aluminium fluoride, produced at the lowest operating costs using the latest technology,” he said.

The company expects demand from aluminium fluoride to come from domestic aluminium smelters and planned nuclear enrichment facilities, as well as from the international market.