Vametco is an integrated mining and processing plant located eight km northeast 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 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. It has a total of 516 employees and contractors
Vametco’s open pit mine is approximately 3.5 km 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 185.5 Mt, including 47.4 Mt reserves, with in-magnetite vanadium grades averaging 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.