Vametco is an integrated mining and processing plant located eight kilometres north-east of Brits in the North West Province of South Africa. The operation owns the new order mining right for vanadium and other associated minerals over a portion of the remaining extent of Portion 1 of the farm Uitvalgrond 431 JQ and Portion 1 of the farm Krokodilkraal 426 JQ in Brits. Vametco operates an open-pit mine supplying ore to a vanadium processing plant located on the same properties.
Vametco’s open pit mine is approximately 3.5 kilometres long, extending in a west-east direction. The ore body is well-defined, continuous and dips in a north-east direction at approximately 19 to 20 degrees. The mine is based on a JORC-compliant resource of 184.2 Mt, including 46.4 Mt reserves, with in-magnetite vanadium grades averaging approximately 2.0 % V2O5, with a life of mine of more than 30 years.
Vametco’s processing plant receives ore from the co-located Vametco mine. Vametco employs the standard salt-roast and leach process to produce a steel-alloying vanadium carbon nitride product called Nitrovan. The process involves the following stages:
- Step 1: Crushing, milling and magnetic separation to produce a magnetite concentrate with average grades of approximately 2.0 % V2O5 in-magnetite;
- Step 2: Salt-roasting the concentrate, where the concentrate is roasted with sodium salts in a kiln at approximately 1,150°C to form a water-soluble sodium vanadates material;
- Step 3: Leaching and purification, with dissolution of roasted vanadium concentrate in water, purification, and precipitation of vanadium through the addition of ammonium sulphate followed by drying and then processing in a reducing environment to produce a Modified Vanadium Oxide (“MVO”) product; and
- Step 4: Nitrovan production: the MVO is briquetted and fed into a shaft induction furnace in a nitrogen atmosphere to produce Nitrovan, which is used as a micro-alloy in steel production.