FLSmidth has joined forces with black-owned metallurgical consultants Linhleko Projects to extract chromite from waste at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Rustenburg Platinum Waterval chrome recovery plant.

FLSmidth Linhleko tie up

From left: Manfred Schaffer, President FLSmidth Mining Group Executive Officer; Buang Moloto, Group Chief Executive Linhleko Group; and Deon de Kock, President FLSmidth sub-Saharan Africa & Middle East Region.

The unique cooperation agreement, launched in February, equips Rustenburg-based Linhleko with guaranteed access to FLSmidth’s leading Reflux™ Classifier technology in a modular plant solution. An outcomes-based contract with Sibanye-Stillwater will allow the miner to improve revenue through additional chromite sales, without incurring capital costs.

“Driven by sustainable productivity and innovative business models, the partnership is executing a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) deal with the end-client,” says Terence Osborn, FLSmidth’s director for engineering and technical support in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

The Reflux Classifier has shown that it can re-treat platinum interstage and waste streams to recover chromium oxide at a product grades of over 40%, according to Buang Moloto, managing director at Linhleko.

“Our FLSmidth modular plant will add value to the mine by re-treating the current interstage chrome removal spiral at no initial capital cost to the client,” says Moloto. “As importantly, the solution will have minimal interruption to the mine’s process flow, as no retro-fitting of existing plant is required. It is a completely separate ‘plug and play’ concept involving no or very low downtime or risk to current operations.”

He highlights that the partnership between Linhleko and FLSmidth was facilitated through the government’s Mining Phakisa initiative that seeks to build strategic collaborative relationships between key stakeholders in the mining cluster.

Edwin Ritchken, the coordinator of the Mining Phakisa, has affirmed that this partnership sets a new benchmark in how a global original equipment manufacturer can partner with a black owned company that makes commercial sense to all stakeholders whilst also building an empowered South African business on the cutting edge of global technology and industry. 

In the Sibanye-Stillwater deal, Linhleko and FLSmidth conducted metallurgical test work to prove the concept for the client, while FLSmidth financed the technology asset and provides technical support.

“We value the confidence that Sibanye-Stillwater has shown in us as an emerging minerals business. Credit must also be given to Sibanye for adopting innovative technologies and acting as the anchor customer for the business,” says Moloto. “It has also been vital to have on board a leading technology owner in FLSmidth.”

Sibanye-Stillwater is one of the early adopters of the Reflux Classifier modular plant technology in the recovery of chrome from a UG2 stream, according to Osborn. The technology is successfully operating at one other South African mining operation, with a second about to be exported abroad.

In line with its commitment to the Mining Charter, FLSmidth is providing ongoing enterprise development support to Linhleko.

“We recognise an important opportunity for supplier development in this partnership,” says Osborn. “Our contribution also focuses on Linhleko’s potential to become a top-class metal fabricator, and includes machinery and guidance to improve aspects such as quality control and safety.”

He emphasises that the Sibanye-Stillwater contract was based on a solid commercial foundation, adding significant value to each of stakeholders.

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