the diamond division of bateman engineering, bateman diamonds, was involved in the recently completed de beers south african sea areas (sasa) project, in partnership with de beers consolidated mines and represented by de beers marine.
“the sasa project comprised the design and erection of a diamond processing plant [on] the peace of africa vessel, which de beers marine will use to mine the seabed,” bateman diamonds global business development gm liam cafferty tells mining weekly.
other projects the company is executing include the upgrade to the existing plant at the finsch mine. the upgrade will enable the plant to process dump material as well as underground mined material.
the upgrade includes replacing the milling circuit with a high-pressure rollcircuit, additional dense-medium separation (dms) plants and various modifications to the recovery plant as well as other areas of the plant.
cafferty explains that the unique technology being employed at the mine is the use of optical sorting machines in an auditing and scavenging role.
bateman diamonds is also designing and building the diamond plant at the letseng mine, in lesotho. “the unique factor regarding this mine is its altitude. at 3 100 m above sea level, letseng is the highest diamond mine in the world. this did not affect the design or build of the plant, but creates issues for the employees. they work on a shift rotation basis,” explains cafferty.
in addition to the execution work being undertaken by the company, bateman diamonds is conducting a number of prefeasibility studies (pfss), which range in size from a plant consisting of a single crusher, to plant complete from ‘front end’ to recovery. the values of these plants range from r50-million to r3,5-billion.
studies include the pfs at jwaneng mine, in botswana, for a replacement main plant as well as the third plant at orapa. the company has also begun a study for a new mine in angola. the african country is probably one of the most prospective diamond areas left in the world, says cafferty.
he says the main focus for bateman diamonds, which is a new entity within the bateman organisation, has been setting up the company and securing the project work. he adds that the lack of skilled resources as well as the general upward surge in the industry has created challenges for the business. “projects that, in the past, would take two years to complete, are taking up to three years now because of the lack of available resources,” says cafferty.
he adds, however, that the com-pany has various strategies in place in an effort to mitigate this risk.
an office has been opened in angola with the aim of offering all the available services and project work into the country from this point.
bateman minerals & metals modular plants division gm robert abate says that 95% of the division’s business is in the diamond market.
modular-process plants are used for prospecting, exploration, small-scale mining and minerals processing, and are designed to overcome problems encountered in the erection and commissioning of process facilities in remote and difficult locations, where skilled labour and sophisticated infrastructure are not readily available.
cost reduction is a major factor in modular plant selection where proven bateman designs can be incorporated into plant flowsheets, eliminating design costs and guaranteeing performance.
abate says that bateman’s modular plants have been supplied to numerous diamond-mining regions in africa, as well as many clients abroad, including canada and russia.
“modular plants are convenient, especially for third-world countries or remote areas. the plant is completely preassembled, drastically reducing the chances of making mistakes,” he says.
bateman has also developed grease-belt diamond recovery plants. abate says this is a relatively new development, which began about three years ago.
diamond recovery modules are custom-fitted into containers, facili- tating transport to site, as well as providing secure on-site housing.
bateman’s grease belt recovery systems are completely automated and recover both type i and type ii diamonds. type ii diamonds are often not recovered by x-ray since they do not luminesce. grease belt recovery is able to handle higher outputs than x-ray machines, at lower operating costs.
to date, 13 big grease belt recovery plants have been supplied to mines all over the world. bateman has also developed a compact grease belt diamond recovery plant, able to handle screened feed, ranging in size between 2 mm and 25 mm.
grease belt recovery systems have been particularly popular with alluvial mining and dump retreatment operators.
the latest project to receive these compact grease belt systems is the diamond core resources paardeberg east project, west of kimberley, in the northern cape. previous clients include hc van wyk diamonds and sonop diamond mining.
the company offers a 24-hour spares service and supplies anything a client may require. “bateman distinguishes itself from its competitors through the service it offers to its clients,” concludes abate.