Production and equipment – key areas for capital expenditure
In 2017, investments were made in bioleaching, metals production plant operations, as well as mining and ore reclaiming equipment. Also, the construction of a new emergency shelter got well under way. Capital expenditure during the year totalled EUR 92.1 million.
Terrafame has substantial expertise in metals bioleaching conducted in two stages. In the first stage, ore is leached in the primary leaching area for about 18 months. Subsequently, the ore is reclaimed and transferred to secondary leaching area. Block 3 base structures were finalised in the secondary leaching area in the spring of 2017, and the main area of block 4 base structures were finished by the end of the year. Furthermore, a joint pumping station for the process solution was built for the blocks 3 and 4. Thanks to these investments, the secondary leaching area was doubled in comparison to the past.
Mining includes also mining of waste rock. Terrafame has long been able to utilise waste rock as a building material for production areas. Towards the end of the year, in accordance with the environmental permit, transfer of waste rock to a separate block 1 in the waste rock area commenced. An investment was also made to increase the gypsum pond volume.
Total capital expenditure on the earthwork construction over the year amounted to approximately EUR 38 million.
Third hydrogen sulphide production line almost complete
Terrafame utilises hydrogen sulphide in the extraction of metals from the process solution. Originally, two hydrogen sulphide plants built in 2008–2009 have been in use in the metals production. Design of the third hydrogen sulphide plant started in autumn 2016, and construction work was initiated in early summer 2017.
The new hydrogen sulphide plant will make it possible to increase the capacity of the metals production plant, and will simultaneously improve the operational reliability. The third plant, equal in annual capacity to the previous plants, is due to be commissioned in early summer 2018.
In 2017, close to EUR 9 million was invested in construction work for the new hydrogen sulphide production line.
New equipment at the mine and in ore reclaiming
Close to EUR 10 million was invested in mining and ore reclaiming equipment. Thus, another wheel loader was acquired, as well as dumper trucks 11 and 12 for transporting material from the open pit. In the primary leaching area, one more surface miner was introduced for ore reclaiming. From primary leaching, the reclaimed ore is conveyed to the secondary leaching area for second-stage bioleaching.
Production of copper and zinc was developed at the metals production plant
In the summer, plant-scale trial operations in the recovery of copper were started at Terrafame, and the first customer deliveries of copper oxide were made in late 2017. Sulphur dioxide is used in the precipitation of copper at the metals production plant so close to EUR one million was invested in the storing and feed equipment for sulphur dioxide.
Also the filtering capacity of zinc was increased with a capital expenditure of close to EUR one million in a third pressure filter.
Construction work on new emergency shelter started
In the autumn, construction work of a new emergency shelter was started next to the main gate. During the remainder of the year, the foundations were finished, and building of the frame commenced. Once finished, the building will offer also new training facilities and social premises. In 2017, approximately EUR 0.8 million was invested in the building.
Terrafame also constructed a domestic water pipeline from the local water cooperative’s water supply network to the industrial site. This amounted to an investment of around EUR 0.3 million. A domestic water supply from the network was introduced in January 2018.
Capital expenditure in 2017 amounted to EUR 92.1 million.