It completed 67.2 million tonnes of waste pre-stripping by the end of June, against an initial target of 68Mt, and has started ore production, with 487,000t already mined, against a target of 500,000t to be stockpiled before plant commissioning.
Vedanta noted that the team had consistently achieved a production rate of 4-4.5Mt per month of overall rock mining, and this was expected to continue into the project's operational phase.
Plant and infrastructure construction activity peaked in the March quarter of 2018-19, with almost 3,000 personnel employed at the site. Of those employed on site, 1,050 are from the Northern Cape and 550 from the local Khai-Ma municipality.
The necessary water and power infrastructure (38km water pipeline with pumping and storage, and 20km powerlines with a main receiving substation) have been successfully commissioned, and are now delivering water and power at the required capacity.
Construction of the 117ha HDPE-lined tailings storage facility is complete, and it is ready to receive tailings. Cold commissioning of the first section of the plant, comprising the crusher and the conveying systems, is also complete.
The company has just begun feeding ore to the front end of the plant to build the required crushed ore stockpile to be ready for feeding ore to the mill, downstream flotation and dewatering sections of the plant by the end of July.
First product from the concentrator plant filter is then expected by early September.
The concentrator plant operations and maintenance business partner is fully mobilised on-site and is engaged in commissioning activities.
Due to the tragic death of a business partner employee at the end of May, Vedanta took a number of decisions immediately after the tragedy, including suspending construction operations at the plant, and intensive safety retraining of all business partner employees across the entire site. Including the time taken for ramping operations down and then back up again, this has meant that some construction timelines have been affected, by up to two weeks.
Vedanta is aiming for Gamsberg to reach saleable concentrate production and the first truck shipment of the concentrate by the end of the September quarter, with ramp up to the full 4Mt per annum expected within a year from the first ore feed.
The company added that the Gamsberg smart ore movement digitalisation project — to provide real-time stockpile and blending management solutions to de-risk the ramp up of the concentrator — was on track to go live during August.