Zimbabwe celebrates first chrome beneficiation
Zimbabwe’s biggest chrome miner, African Chrome Fields, has launched its state-of-the-art aluminothermic plant which will create new jobs and initially produce 300 tpm of Ultra Low Carbon High Grade Ferrochrome, or ULCHGFeCr. Once in production, the technologically-advanced plant is expected to ramp-up production to 600 tpm of ULCHGFeCr. The plant further creates certain by-products that have economic value themselves and will be sold as a secondary income. It will also increase the economic value of the high grade chromite ore by removing large quantities of gangue minerals, resulting in the production of a higher grade ferrochrome with minimum impurities. The launch of this plant brings with it the creation of 50 new jobs, bringing the total number of employees at African Chrome Fields (ACF) to over approximately 1 250, further increasing employment in the region. One of the more important reasons for beneficiation of chromite by way of the plant is due to the lack of electricity at ACF’s remote location. The process it uses requires no electricity and allows ACF the opportunity to increase the economic value of the chromite it mines by way of beneficiation. Beneficiation of raw material is in line with the Zim-ASSETS programme endorsed by the Zimbabwean Government. ACF National Projects Liaison Officer, Ashruf Kaka comments: “The aluminothermic beneficiation plant is a very exciting step both for our flagship operation, and for the development of Zimbabwe’s ferrochrome industry. “Zimbabwe currently sits on over 12% of global chrome reserves and we want to help the country fulfil its true potential as a major global player in the production and beneficiation of this vital stainless steel ingredient.” John Drummond, Chief Technical Officer with African Chrome Fields, adds: “The aluminothermic process is not only more efficient, but cleaner as well, when compared to more conventional methods. The specific recipe and know-how of the plant for this manner of beneficiation is unique to ACF. The main ingredient being the high grade ferrochrome that ACF mines alluvially.” The plant, which took just over 10 months to complete since receiving approval from the Environmental Management Agency, has been well received by the local community, government officials, and environmental auditors.