Bellzone Mining plc (AIM: BZM) provides the first feasibility study progress report since the re-commencement of operations in 4Q 2017.
· 250-tonne bulk sample excavation has commenced
· Crushing and blending at Mintek in South Africa will result in a 140-tonne smelting sample
· Bulk sample is targeted to be ready to ship from Conakry by end-May
· Feasibility study timetable has built-in buffer for pilot plant testing and smelting from end-June so it is expected the overall target completion date remains at November 2018
· Work to-date is within the original feasibility study budget
The bulk sample pit site has been chosen for being close to surface for ease of extraction, as well as for its nickel grade.. Excavation work must proceed without excessive haste as careful grade control will need to be exercised using a handheld XRF analyser both in the pit as well as on the packaged samples. To compile the best possible bulk sample, jackhammers rather than heavier equipment are being used for excavation. The sample will then be packed in drums and shipped by container from Conakry to South Africa. Shipping arrangements are currently being finalised.
The sample is required to be crushed to -2mm and blended thoroughly to provide a homogenous ore to be fed into the test smelter.
The smelter analysis aims to prove that the ore smelts a ferroalloy and will demonstrate what percentage of the nickel in ore is recovered to the ferroalloy and how much, if any, is lost to slag.
Test Smelting Campaign at Mintek
A 200KW test ESS smelter with a single channel inductor has been built by Envirosteel and Mintek at Mintek’s metallurgical test facility in Randburg, Johannesburg and is currently undergoing the final stages of commissioning.
The test smelting is expected to take 10 days to two weeks, as the ore is introduced slowly into the ESS smelter with a helical screw mechanism enabling the controlled development of the ore smelting surface in the smelter. It is this characteristic of the smelter design that enables the ESS smelter to produce alloys using considerably lower energy inputs than conventional rotary kiln or electric arc furnaces.
A further update will be issued in due course.
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