First ore is expected to be mined in November at manganese miner Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining’s new openpit Tshipi Borwa mine, near Kathu, in the Northern Cape, Tshipi é Ntle Manganese Mining CEO Finn Behnken tells Mining Weekly.
The Tshipi Borwa mine has been designed to produce 2.5-million tons a year of manganese ore grading at 37%. With 163-million tons of openpit resources, the Tshipi Borwa mine should be in operation for many decades.
“Further, being a low-cost openpit, I am sure that it will consistently deliver economic benefits to the surrounding communities and the rest of South Africa,” says Behnken.
The main mine contract for the excavation of the 70-m-deep openpit was awarded to surface mining contractor Aveng Moolmans, which started operations in December last year. Various other contractors are responsible for the many other activities necessary for constructing the new mine, including civil engineering specialist Protech Khuthele, which is responsible for the mine infrastructure earthworks.
“The prestrip is going well and has a few more months to go until it is completed. The mining contractor moves about 45 000 BCMs a day of waste,” says Behnken.
The ore processing plant is relatively simple. It comprises a primary crusher, with a conveyor placing the manganese on a primary surface stockpile. From there, it is drawn off and passed through a secondary crusher and screening plant. The ore is then loaded onto the product stockpile, whereafter it will be loaded onto the rail wagons by a purpose-built rapid load-out terminal. Meanwhile, most of the work on the rail siding is almost complete – at the time of writing, minor ballast work, the last few tracks’ welds and final adjustment on the overhead track electrification cabling had yet to be completed.
Commissioning on the railroad is set to begin in September and the rail safety regulator has already approved the temporary testing of the rail siding, Behnken adds.
Further, over the next two months, the erection of Tshipi Borwa’s imported rapid load-out station will take place, after which there will be a further month for commissioning and completion.
Through the John Taolo Gaetsewe Development Trust’s shareholding in South African black economic-empowerment company, Ntsimbintle Mining is an indirect, but significant share- holder in the Tshipi Borwa mine. The John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, in which the trust is based, has a population of about 170 000 people who reside in about 190 towns and villages.
The trust has built a clinic for the local community and has established a bursary scheme that, so far, has sponsored 108 students from the area in various academic fields, 58 of whom have graduated and are now working in different parts of the country, says head of the trust Cynthia Mogodi.
“For years, we have been struggling with issues of unemployment and poverty – this mine will go a long way in tackling these challenges,” she notes.
In addition to the bursary scheme, the trust focuses on education and skills development; healthcare; enterprise development; developing community amenities, such as day-care centres for children, libraries, as well as science and maths centres; arts; and culture and heritage.
“By having contributed our portion of the cash equity needed for the Borwa mine development, we hold a stake in a mine which will remain debt-free. This means that the trust stands to benefit directly from its equity shareholding. Dividends will go to the trust’s social projects and not to debt service. There is real transformation of the South African economy occurring as the mine progresses towards full production,” Mogodi adds.
“From the day we started this business venture, we were determined that this initiative should benefit the community members living where manganese is mined,” says Tshipi é Ntle Manga- nese Mining chairperson Saki Macozoma.
“What makes Tshipi special is not only the 60-year openpit life-of-mine but also the fact that all our shareholders, including the John Taolo Gaetswe Development Trust, have a debt-free and unencumbered stake in Tshipi, which means that the benefits of the mineral resources will flow back to the communities in the area,” he adds.
Tshipi’s new mining venture will provide tangible benefits for its historically disadvantaged South African shareholders and the local community. It is expected that about 500 people will eventually be permanently employed on the site and, in turn, will support up to 2 500 dependants, says Macozoma.
“Although we are building the new mine and putting into place the necessary plans for operational readiness, we have not neglected our social responsibility. Tshipi is funding a potable water project in partnership with the Joe Morolong local municipality and providing financial assistance to several students studying in various disciplines at tertiary institutions. We too are proud to have funded the groundbreaking research into the conservation of secretary birds,” says Tshipi Borwa mine GM Ezekiel Lotlhare.