Tormin Mineral Sands Operation

Tormin Mineral Sands

 

Situated ∼360kms north of Cape Town on the west coast of South Africa, the Tormin Mineral Sands Operation consists of a number of high-grade placer beach and strandline mineral sands deposits hosting some of the richest grades in the world of naturally occurring zircon, ilmenite, rutile, magnetite and garnet.

Tormin’s high-grade placer beach deposits are unique due to the rate that mining areas are naturally refurbished and the speed that the mineralisation actively replenishes. The Heavy Minerals (“HM”) in the beach are regularly replaced by the transport of new sediments from deeper waters, much of which is derived from the erosion of deposits accumulated in the elevated historic beach terraces onto the present beach. This replenishment occurs as a result of the naturally highly dynamic nature of sediment transport processes on beaches in this area.

Current Beaches

Operations first commended at Tormin in late 2013 at the Current Beaches and over a six year period, the Company has mined nearly five times the Indicated Resource of 2.7 million tonnes.

Since commissioning, mining at Tormin has taken place over a 12 kilometre zone of beach area (“Current Beaches”) directly in front of the existing processing infrastructure. The original Tormin resource was first released to the ASX on 31 October 2011. The Tormin beach deposit is an active placer beach sand deposit limited in extent on its eastern side by coastal cliffs and to depth by bedrock contact. The resource is open towards the ocean and surf zone on its western side, as well as along the coastline towards the north and south.

Production has increased steadily since 2014, while the inferred resources have declined. Production in 2019 was more than the nominal resource (Table 1). This confirms that the replenishment of resources is ongoing and that production is being sustained even though grades are declining.

                                    Table 1 – Historical Mineral Resources for the Current Beaches HM Deposit

Northern Beaches

In July 2020, MRC was granted an amendment to the existing Mining Right under Section 102 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act No. 49 of 2008 (“S102 Mining Right”). Under the amended licence, mining operations can expand to include the higher grade Northern Beaches where a high grade JORC compliant resource of 2.5 million tonnes at 23.5% Total Heavy Mineral (“THM”) in the category of Measured, Indicated and Inferred using a 2% cut-off was reported in May 2020.

The Northern Beaches deposit has over 70% of the total Resource reporting in the category of Measured at 24% THM. With the inclusion of the Northern Beaches, the Company effectively doubles the mining footprint of active placer beach deposits. Due to the constant replenishment profile of these beaches, the Company expects that the Northern Beaches will sustain mining operations well beyond the initial resource of 2.5Mt @ 23.5% THM.

The Northern Beaches incorporate ten beaches directly north of and adjoining the Current Beaches at Tormin. These areas unite semi-continuous tenements approximately 23.5km in length, covering an area of 398 hectares of beach sands prospective for zircon, rutile, ilmenite, garnet, leucoxene and magnetite. Like the Current Beaches, this deposit is an HMS deposit located on an active placer beach strandline undergoing continuous erosion, deposition and replenishment from oceanic storm and wave activity. The heavy minerals in the beach are constantly replenished by the transport of new sediment from deeper waters, much of which has been derived from the erosion of deposits accumulated in the elevated historic beach terraces onto the present beach.

                         Table 2 – Total Mineral Resources for the Northern Beaches HM Deposit (2% cut-off grade)

Inland Strand – S102 Mining Right Areas

The Inland Strand areas granted under the S102 Mining Right include two areas approximately 5.6km in total length, covering 75 hectares of high-grade mineralisation adjacent to the existing mining operations on the Company owned farm, Geelwal Karoo 262. The Inland Strand S102 Mining Right areas are part of the Western Strandline, which incorporates an area approximately 12km in length, covering 1,741 hectares. The Inland Strand is a palaeo-marine strandline 35m above mean sea level in an area that has undergone historical exploration since the 1930s.

The resource area within the S102 Mining Right areas is estimated at 22.8 million tonnes at 20.9% THM. The majority (85%) of the Mineral Resource within the S102 Mining Right is classified as Measured and Indicated (Table 3).

  Table 3 – Mineral Resources for the Western Strandline deposit inside the S102 Mining Right Area (2% cut-off grade)

Western Strandline

The Western Strandline spans the S102 Mining Right and Prospecting Right (WC 30/5/1/1/2/10262PR).

The Mineral Resource is estimated at 106 million tonnes at 12.4% THM in the categories of Measured, Indicated and Inferred using a 2% THM cut-off grade.

The Inland Strand comprises multiple discrete palaeo strandlines running semi-parallel to the coastline and within the Company owned farm, Geelwal Karoo 262. Two palaeo-marine strandlines have been identified, consisting of a Western Strandline (35-40m above mean sea level) and an Eastern Strandline (86m above mean sea level). Aeromagnetic data indicates that the strandlines run continuously along the coastline of the Company’s tenure portfolio.

The onshore mineral sands are marine palaeo-terraces “Inlands Strands”, aeolian sands and fluvial sediments. These targets were formed during Miocene, Pliocene and Quaternary/Pleistocene coastal transgression (sea moving inland) and regression cycles.

The strandline is a concentration of high grade Valuable Heavy Minerals with overburden horizons above the strandline in the form of aeolian facies (Orange Feldspathic Sand), erosion surface facies (dorbank, silcrete, calcrete) and Red Aeolian Sands deflation zones that have also been confirmed to be mineralised in places. The deposit hosts economic mineralisation in three main geological units of enriched high grade mineral strandline deposits (1-12m thickness), bulk mineralisation in Orange Feldspathic Sand (1-44m thickness) and low grade in Red Aeolian Sand (0-11m) as well as dorbank and gravel.

                        Table 4 – Total Mineral Resources for the Western Strandline deposit (2% THM cut-off grade)

Mining

Mining at Tormin is a free dig operation using conventional trucking and excavation utilising mobile excavators, front-end loaders and trucks. Historically, the Company has mined between 2.5 and 2.7 million tonnes of ore annually with ore trucked to a Primary Beach and Secondary Concentrator Plant located directly adjacent to the mining areas.

Ore is processed via a Primary Beach Concentrator (“PBC”), where the minerals are separated by a chemical free gravity process before the garnet is separated at a garnet stripping plant and the non-magnetic material is separated from the heavy mineral concentrate.

The saltwater tailings are pumped back to the beach near the processing plant where the tidal action of the waves on the beaches distributes the tailings in a natural process, effectively reforming the beach profile.

Processing

Ore is processed via a PBC where the minerals are separated by a chemical free gravity process before the garnet is separated at a garnet stripping plant and the non-magnetic material is separated from the heavy mineral concentrate.

The saltwater tailings are pumped back to the beach near the processing plant where the tidal action of the waves on the beaches distributes the tailings in a natural process, effectively reforming the beach profile.

Henlo du Toit Photography-3920

Expansion

The S102 Mining Right also provides for expanded processing activities including the construction of additional crushing and classifying capacity as well as the construction of a Minerals Separation Plant (“MSP”). The S102 Mining Right also allows for the connection of Eskom grid power by the Sere wind farm, which will significantly reduce current power generation costs and provide up to 10 megawatts of power for any future downstream processing requirements.

An increase in processing capacity will be followed by the construction of a 350,000tpa infeed MSP, enabling production of up to 300,000tpa of finished product, significantly increasing the value of Tormin’s product suite.

The MSP will recover additional minerals from the heavy mineral ilmenite and garnet concentrates. The concentrate streams will be dried and processed using magnetic and gravity separation techniques to produce high grade and/or finished ilmenite including secondary ilmenite (leucoxene), garnet, magnetite, zircon and rutile products. Construction of the plant is currently forecast to commence in 2023, with the first production in 2024.