|Minera Miski Mayo SRL (Vale Peru) expects to solve its Bayóvar phosphate mine possible expansion for the end of the year. The deposit, located in the northern Peruvian Province of Sechura, started operations in mid-2010, and its main current challenge is reaching a nominal annual production of 3.9 million tons phosphatic rock, a goal foreseen for 2014.
Jalmiro Lazarini, the company general manager, admits they are carrying out studies for a possible capacity increase. Although they are still in a conceptual stage, Lazarini underlines the company interest in concretizing this new step.
“Bayóvar must be decided by the end of this year because, due to our work schedule, we are all anxious to start construction in 2012… people are working hard to reach this goal,” he affirmed during a press conference held on occasion of Perumin Mining Convention.
The executive indicated that they are seeking to increase production in approximately 49%: “we are talking about 5.8 million tons phosphatic rock”; but he insisted that the initiative is still in its conceptual stage and, therefore, he avoided providing more details or the required amounts.
Bayóvar required an investment of around US$566 million for construction, in addition to almost US$40 million for the research and exploration stage.
Jalmiro Lazarini highlights that this site is the first project in which Vale participates from the initial exploration to the final operation, developing every part of the business: “in 2003, exploration was started and in 2005 we signed the implementation contract with the Peruvian Government,” he stated.
Bayóvar started operation on July 10, 2010, “after quite an effort.” Production during that first year was 1.085 million tons phosphate; for this year, the goal is 2.8 million tons, while for 2012 a slight increase to 2.9 million is foreseen, as well as a larger increase to 3.7 million tons in 2013, and finally reach the operation nominal production of 3.9 million tons in 2014.
The deposit contains approximately 278 million tons phosphate. The mining company plans consider a useful life of 27 years.
Lazarini explains that the deposit is formed by eight phosphate beds with a variation from 40 cm to 1.5-2 m length. “This mine has to be very well studied because even phosphate layers have a different P2O5 concentration, from 14% to 21%, and the concentrator plant has to receive a mixture with a concentrate head grade of around 17 to 18%,” he stated.
Bayóvar operation has a mine, a concentrator plant, an industrial road to transport concentrate to the port, a truck unloading area, an on-field conveyor belt to the port, a drying area were water is removed from the concentrate, and the pier.
The executive indicated that they have an ocean water capture plant at the mine, which they desalinize through reverse osmosis: “this water is pumped for the concentrator plant use”; therefore, the local population water sources are not touched.
The mine infrastructure also includes a 138 kV transmission line to feed the facilities.
With regards to loading and transport equipment, they have a 185 ton Komatsu 730 truck fleet and five PC4000 excavators. Lazarini indicated that in 2010 they moved 2.5 million tons mineral with 29.6 million tons waste rock: “Ratio is quite high and this affects the financial situation,” he warned. To August 30, 2011, they had moved 5.6 million tons mineral with 29.68 million tons waste rock.
With regards to the concentrator plant operation, Lazarini indicated that this is a quite simple process: “a wash-over with ocean water and finally, to reduce chloride level, we use desalinized water.” The ocean water enters two washing drums to perform the first wash; then, a granulometric separation is done to reach the final concentrate. “We have three feeding points with an hourly capacity of 2,400 tons,” he added.
Transport to the port is carried out in 70-ton load trucks.
There are two dryers at the port with an hourly capacity of 520 tons. Storing around 100 thousand tons rock in the silos is possible, while the port infrastructure allows shipments of 3,500 tons per hour.
With regards to sales, exports were 2.4 million tons phosphoric rock to September. The main destination is the USA, followed by Brazil, India, and Mexico. They also sell in Peru, but Lazarini admitted that “this production is meant for overseas.”
The executive highlighted the support the project has received from the Sechura community, but he was also cautious regarding the expectation from the benefits the project may generate in the zone.
Until August, the operation had paid US$6 million in royalties, and another million dollars to the trust, in addition to contributions to the community.
Lazarini also indicated that purchases from local vendors were almost US$10 million since the start-up in July 2010. With regards to employment, he underlined local labor training, as all mine operators are from Sechura and had the opportunity to stay at Vale Carajas mine in Brazil during four months.
Finally, Lazarini informed that they continue with the exploration campaigns in the Bayóvar area, as well as in different phosphate and copper projects in the country. Vale is very interested in copper and other minerals. The exploration is carried out by Vale Exploration Peru.
“Our explorations are aggressive, we are everywhere in the world exploring and locating new deposits,” he affirmed.
In the particular case of phosphates, Lazarini indicated that they have started an exploration campaign around the mine, “but everything is just an embryo; now, we are focused on reaching the Bayóvar project production figures,” he concluded.