Mineral Deposits (GCO) - profitable tar sands operation in Senegal
Despite only being in operation since the middle of 2014 Mineral Deposits’ Grand Cote Operations (GCO) in Senegal has already proved to the industry that a mining outfit can operate a profitable and productive business while making a positive impact in a developing country. For its formidable achievements in such brief time, GCO received an exclusive invitation to accompany the Senegalese government to last year’s COP21 conference – a well-deserved honour, as we shall explore.
Listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, Mineral Deposits Limited (MDL) is specialised in mining, integrating, and transforming mineral sands. In partnership with French company ERAMET, MDL owns 50 percent of the TiZir joint venture, which consists of the Grande Côte operation in Senegal, supported by a titanium and iron ilmenite upgrading facility (TTI) in Norway, enabling the extraction and subsequent smelting of mineral sands in a single operation.
Senegal’s Grand Cote Operations span over 445 square kilometres; the orebody present in this region is primarily made up of zircon and ilmenite, but also contains some high value co-products in the form of rutile and leucoxene. With an expected lifetime of just under 30 years (but with additional resources), the mine is set to be profitable for all involved if the correct strategy is adopted.
GCO CEO Daniel Marini explains: “The operation covers a very large area, however due to the nature of the deposit we need to maintain a very elevated throughput; this achievement owes a lot to the largest dredge in the world.”
A series of unique pumps supports this exceptional piece of equipment that moves the extracted ore to a floating Wet Concentrator Plant which separates the mineral deposits from the surrounding sand. The resulting product is then driven to a dedicated mineral separation plant. Once fully processed at the Mineral Sand Process plant, the mineral sand travels via rail to GCO’s dedicated dock at the Port of Dakar.
Marini explains how a range of control measures certify that the minerals GCO ships are of the highest quality: “We have a laboratory operated by a technician with a Masters in Chemistry who takes hundreds of samples every single day. This ensures our product is free from pollutants and is up to international standards.”