The Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), through the Mining Centre and the Department of Chemical, Materials and Metallurgical Engineering is pleased to announce a research collaboration endeavour and the identification of a concession owned by Gcwihaba Resources, (a subsidiary of Tsodilo Resources Limited), in partnership with Morupule Coal Mine (MCM)
The concession contains a resourceof iron (Fe) ore that comprises 29.4%Fe ore grade. The inferred mineral resource is estimated at 441 tonnes (mt) of ore with a potential life of 60 years at a production rate of 7 – 60 Mtpa. The intention is to undertake metallurgical studies concerning the potential of generating a Pellet Feed and Direct Reduced Iron (DRI) product from the Tsodilo Xaudum Iron Formation (XIF) utilising its magnetite and MCM’s coal as a reductant. The collaboration will see Botswana transform from a resource -based to a knowledge-based society, through BIUST’s intellectual knowledge injected into the research component.
MCM is financing the research project to the tune of P586, 000 towards implementing a three-phased approach to the project. Phase 1 is the conceptualisation and feasibility where BIUST is providing the technical knowledge as well as research capability and proof of concept.In this phase, our main aim is to establish the amenability of the newly discovered concession to its exploitation. This will be accomplished through intensive laboratory-scale characterisation of the Xaudum Iron formation (XFI) iron ore deposit to determine its structure, mineralogical composition, deportment, association and liberation. Phase 2 is the basic process design stage that aims at beneficiating iron ore raw material into a concentrate through rigorous laboratory-scale direction reduction experiment using sub-bituminous Morupule Coal Mine as the reductant.
The specific objectives of this phase involve characterisation of the prototype product, optimisation of the manipulated variables and process conditions using attainable region approach to economic viability purposes. The other objective is to consider utility requirements, health, safety and environment. Phase 3 involves detailed chemical engineering design of the process, costing, energy integration, and scale-up from laboratory to industrial pilot scale with plant scale optimisation, which will lead to the possibility of commercialisation of the proposed plant.
Botswana has significant coal reserves which is a major advantage for the XIF project, allowing for coal to be used in the metallurgical beneficiation process to generate iron products such as iron pellets, sponge iron, pig iron, and steelThe steel demand has heightened recently locally, regionally and internationally. One of the expected outcomes of the project is a significant reduction in import bill and finished iron and steel associated products. Also, MCM will find a new market niche for their increased coal production rates as they diversify from thermal to the metallurgical supply of coal.
This project would represent the first iron deposit to be considered for development in Botswana Gcwihaba has identified the project as having the potential to positively impact the future economy of Botswana as the country looks to diversify its economy and propel Botswana to reach its goal of shifting from dependence on minerals revenues. The exploitation of the iron ore deposits could kick-start Botswana’s iron and steel industry and reduce import bill as well as arrest the local production scarcity of these commodities. The downstream advantages of local production are numerous to mention.
The study will be undertaken in the North-West District of Botswana near Shakawe, proximate to the Namibian border and lies thirty (30) miles from the town of Divundu in Namibia, which will in future enjoy railway linkage to the Walvis Bay in Namibia for access to the international markets. This exploration target was generated by inversion modelling of ground magnetic geophysical date which was compared and moderated to volumes from drilling data and its potential quantity and grade conceptual in nature.