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$20m plant set to roll

Friday, 11th January, 2013

By Andrew Robertson

One million tonnes of stockpiled raw ilmenite will begin to be fed through Cristal Mining Australia’s newly expanded plant on the Pinnacles Road from Monday.

Work on the $20 million expansion, which began in July, has now reached the commissioning stage, according to Mineral Separation Plant manager Clayton Trengove.

The BHT plant, which is pinned to the plant built in 2006, will allow Cristal (formerly Bemax Resources) to treat between 280,000 and 450,000 tonnes of additional material a year.

Most of the raw ilmenite, or Ti2, will be used as feedstock for the parent company’s yet-to-be constructed slagging plant in Saudi Arabia and used as paint pigment and in pig iron.

It will become the third product stream to be treated at the mineral separation plant, which is already fed secondary ilmenite and leucoxene, zircon and rutile, from Cristal’s two mines south of the city near Pooncarie.

Mr Trengove said it would take about six years to get through the stockpiled Ti2 which has been building up since mining began at Ginkgo in 2005.

Material will begin to be run through the plant from Monday with full production expected to begin by the end of January.

“We’ve already started filling positions in both production and maintenance,” Mr Trengove said.

He said the expansion had led to an extra 11 staff being employed.

Up to 60 contractors, including those employed by local firms, were still working on site and would remain there until the end of the month.

An official opening ceremony will be held next month.

Cristal has previously said that an increase in the world market price of raw ilmenite (or Ti2) was behind the decision to expand the plant.

Saudi-owned Cristal, which is already one of the largest mineral sands miners in Australia, plans to open a further two mines in the Murray Basin by the middle of 2014.

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