An area of diversification: the operation of a titanium and zircon deposit
Grande Côte is one of the two entities of TiZir Limited, a joint venture between ERAMET and the Australian company Mineral Deposits Limited (MDL). 90% held by this joint venture and 10% by the Republic of Senegal, Grande Côte is one of the largest projects under development in the mineral sands industry.
Stretching 100 km along the Senegalese coast, approximately 50 km north of Dakar, it should prove highly profitable, due to the large size of the deposit and the relative simplicity of its operation.
Grande Côte not only marks the arrival of ERAMET in Senegal, but also a sectorial diversification, the applications of mineral sands (titanium, zircon, etc.), opening up new markets to the Group.
The economic challenges
Drawing on the skills of each partner
ERAMET and MDL's complementary skills are essential for the proper execution of the Grande Côte project: indeed, ERAMET brings its knowledge of extraction, metallurgy, R&D, logistics and marketing, while MDL shares its expertise in matters not only of project development, but also of extraction and treatment of mineral sands.
Access to a market with strong potential
Grande Côte is one of the rare projects in the world that can take advantage of the significant supply shortfall in the mineral sands industry, this being due to a lack of investment in terms of mining exploration and development. Indeed, the zircon and titanium markets have strong growth potential, driven by the urbanization and growth of emerging countries, while the deposits that formerly supplied a large portion of demand have been exhausted. In this context, TiZir Limited, through its Grande Côte project, has a true opportunity to become a key player in the field.
Implementing a sustainable operation, based on simple processes
The operation of Grande Côte should begin in late 2013, for a period of approximately 20 years. At full capacity, its annual production is estimated at approximately 575,000 tons of ilmenite, 85,000 tons of zircon, and 16,000 tons of rutile and leucoxene, which makes it one of the largest projects under development in this sector.
Grande Côte is a significant deposit, the composition of which allows standard dredging and transformation processes. The dunes contain little or no waste, vegetation or clay, allowing a relatively simple mining operation: a dredge operator progressively pumps the sand out of the dune and sends it to a floating plant in which the suspended sand is treated in a series of spirals. This process enables the density separation of a concentrate of heavy minerals. This is then transferred into the separation plant, which uses magnetic, electrostatic and gravitational processes to separate the various mineralogical fractions.
Relying on existing infrastructures and managing the logistics from A to Z
The management of all logistics requirements is a priority within the Grande Côte project. Although the company can rely on existing infrastructures such as railroad lines, roads or even the port of Dakar, it has also invested in resources allowing it to manage the logistics from A to Z. For example, a concession was negotiated with the Senegalese government to connect the metals separation plant to the port by rail. Storage areas and secured access to the docks are also in the process of being arranged at the port of Dakar, to facilitate the loading of the ships. A power plant is also under construction for supplying energy to the plants.
The environmental and social challenges
Implementing the development framework of the project
In connection with the TiZir Limited joint venture, ERAMET has evaluated the environmental, social, business and health components of the Grande Côte project, in order to ensure that site start-up operations are taken up in a responsible and sustainable manner, both ecologically and socially.
A strict control program has been developed for the Grande Côte project. It defines and adopts preventive and corrective measures for minimizing and reducing the environmental impact that could result from these activities. This program includes, for example, studies on the surface water, groundwater and wastewater, as well as on the waste, noise and visual impacts, biodiversity and storage of materials.
Moreover, earth samples and samples of dune grains were taken and studied on site, in order to determine the best approach to follow in terms of revegetation, once the mining begins.