State-of-the-art processing plant in transit to Centrex Metals’ phosphate site  

Australian mining company Centrex Metals has partnered with CDE Meta to deliver a state-of-the-art wet processing plant, currently in transit to the company’s Ardmore site, that will produce phosphate concentrate, a sought-after commodity in the agricultural industry.

The plant is expected to arrive on site in June following the completion of fabrication and successful factory acceptance testing. 

Located south of Mount Isa in North West Queensland, Centrex Metals’ Ardmore Phosphate Rock Project focuses on processing one of the world's few remaining undeveloped high-grade phosphate rock deposits.

Phosphate rock is main source of phosphorus, an essential ingredient to stimulate healthy plant development in agriculture. Prices are forecast to continue to rise until 2023 as supply begins to tighten and production costs increase.

According to Fertilizer Australia, the industry association representing manufacturers, importers and distributors of fertilizer, from 2002 to 2017 average annual sales of fertilizer reached 5.4 million tonnes, of which approximately half is manufactured in Australia.

Expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2019, the pilot CDE phosphate washing plant will wash, scrub and de-slime free-digging ore to produce premium 35 per cent P2O5 and ultra-low cadmium phosphate rock concentrate to be used in the manufacture of phosphoric acid. It will progress to full-scale development in 2020.

The modular plant has a capacity of 70tonnes per hour and has been designed to accomodate the expansion of the plant in phase two which will double the scale of the operation to process 140tph, equivalent to 800,000 wet tonnes per annum.

During phase one, the pilot plant will provide up to 30,000 tonnes of wet concentrate to a number of Centrex Metals Ltd customers.

Adam Holland, Head of Mining at CDE, explains the benefits of the CDE solution: “This 70 tonne-per-hour solution, created in collaboration with Centrex, is part of a two-phase project.  The pilot plant comprises the first phase and has been carefully designed using CDE’s unique modular offering in order to facilitate the simple and cost-effective transition to a 140 tonne-per-hour plant in phase two.

“CDE’s modular approach solved many of the challenges presented by the remote location of the reserve,” explained Adam, “providing the flexibility required to protect that initial investment when moving from a pilot to full scale plant in 2020. This was essential for Centrex Metals to gain the necessary return on investment to make the project viable.”

To alleviate challenges presented by the remote location and its restricted access to water supplies, CDE is also supplying its innovative AquaCycle technology, a high-efficiency water management system which recovers up to 90 per cent of the process water for immediate recirculation in the system.

The bespoke solution designed and commissioned by CDE has supported Centrex Metals Ltd to reduce its pre-production capital costs by 13 per cent due to key design changes and equipment selection.

Simon Slesarewich, CEO at Centrex Metals, said: “This is an exciting development for Centrex and we look forward to receiving the first module of the start-up plant on site.

“Since acquiring the Ardmore project in 2017 we have focused on producing high-quality phosphate rock concentrate to deliver this vital commodity for agriculture in Australia, which is presently heavily reliant on imports.

“Following a thorough feasibility study, we expect to produce 776,000 tonnes of premium grade phosphate rock concentrate, which is equivalent to 800,000 wet tonnes per annum at the target shipping level of 3 per cent moisture.

“To deliver this target over the estimated 10-year lifetime of the mine, we required a reliable and resilient wet processing solution to remove the fine gangue after the high-grade ore has been crushed to meet sizing specifications. Our research showed that CDE could deliver a solution that fully met our requirements.”

Concentrate produced from the start-up phase will go to potential offtake customers.

Simon continued: “Trial mining and production will enable the company to demonstrate the quality of the Ardmore product and further advance the project with offtake partners in the Asia-Pacific region that is forecast to see increased growth with this quality of material.”

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  • CDE is the global leader in materials wet processing technology, with almost 2,000 wet processing projects delivered in over 100 countries across the world. Through it’s purpose “Championing Sustainability To Create A New Wor...