Australia-based Sphere Minerals has revealed the results of a pre-feasibility study carried-out on its Guelb el Aouj iron ore project in Mauritania, which found that the project has a mine life of 200 years.
The Guelb el Aouj project is a 50-50 joint venture between Sphere Minerals and Mauritanian State mining company, Société Nationale Industrielle et Minière (SNIM). It is located near the iron ore mining town of Zouerate, 26km from the mainline railway, which is owned by SNIM.
According to the study, the project’s lifetime could reach 200 years at a production capacity of 9.5 million tonnes (Mt) of iron ore a year and could run for more than 40 years, if the company boosts its annual production to 45Mt.
The report has stated that the company would require an investment of around $866m to implement its earlier plan of producing 15Mt a year towards the end of the second year of mining, when operating costs are expected to reach $5.48 per tonne.
The project site contains coarse grained magnetite-quartzite ore that can produce a 66% iron concentrate and, according to some recent analyses, it has an ore reserve of approximately 760Mt grading at 35% iron.
In 2008, Sphere revealed the results of the Guelb el Aouj definitive feasibility study, which showed that a pellet plant at the site can process 17 metric tonnes per annum (mt/a) of magnetite-quartzite ore to produce 7mt/a of direct reduction grade iron ore pellets for around 30 years.
According to Sphere, the latest study has provided adequate grounds for advancing the project into the feasibility study stage for the initial module, as part of the staged development.
Image: The project site contains coarse grained magnetite-quartzite ore that can produce a 66% iron concentrate. Photo: courtesy of Lars Lentz.