Modular plants critical to mining in Nigeria – Deloitte
Professional services firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte, has highlighted the need for the introduction of smaller, scalable and modular processing plants to develop the mining sector in Nigeria.
The firm, in a report entitled, ‘Modular plants: A solution to mining in Nigeria,’ said the sector might be on a road to recovery, given the attention being paid to it by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
According to the report, the plants are modular in that companies can include various modules that offer downstream processing to the level desired, and are scalable in that many small plants can be introduced, so that each runs in parallel.
It said mineral companies would also have the opportunity to start their projects quickly through the use of readily available processing plant items that could be quickly adjusted to mining companies’ needs rather than be purpose-made.
The report said, “Though this will result in lower recoveries than will typically be achieved through a purpose-made plant, the use of off-the-shelf technologies (with some modifications), will easily reduce the typical mine development cycle to between six to 12 months from the proven mineral resources stage rather than the longer timescales that have been associated with process plant development.”
It said modular plants had already been set up in other parts of Africa, including Cameroon, Zimbabwe and South Africa, and had been proven for the processing of minerals that require physical separation methods, such as gravity separation, rather than chemical processing.
The authors of the report said, “We are, therefore, of the opinion that innovative technologies such as the modular processing technology, which aids quick start operations, more cost- effective and adaptable for higher grade commodities, area worthwhile option that the government and mining companies, particularly local investors, should consider in order to jump-start increased economic activities in this sector in Nigeria.
“There is no doubt that the government is paying attention to the mining sector and that the sector might be on a road to recovery, having been a key component of Nigeria’s economy in the 1950s.”
The report said, “In spite of the government’s will to develop this sector, it must be noted that it is the private sector participation that will ultimately boost real development in the sector, while government’s main responsibility will be to provide an enabling environment for the development to attract serious local and foreign investors.”
It noted that mining companies in the past had tended to adopt a large-scale, end-to-end mining and processing development methodologies.
The report said, “It must be noted that the environment has changed and companies are, or should be, fundamentally rethinking the historical methodologies applied in project developments and processing.
“The most impactful change in the mining environment is that the sector is experiencing some of the lowest commodity prices in years. This has led to a number of large mining companies selling off their non-core mineral assets, while medium and junior mining companies are experiencing a liquidation of their mineral assets.”