Spanish fluorspar producer Minersa would replace Tunisian aluminium fluoride maker ICF as the major shareholder and technology partner of Alfluorco, a South African hydrofluoric acid and aluminium fluoride joint venture, diversified-miner Metorex said on Tuesday.
Minersa would own a 50% stake in the company, which is studying the feasibility of a R500-million hydrofluoric acid plant, in Richards Bay, with the State-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Vergenoeg Mining Company each holding a 25% stake.
Vergenoeg, which is 70% Metorex and 30% Minersa, has been a prime mover in the formation of Alfluorco.
“The Alfluorco project will benefit from the technology, process operating experience, market experience and customers’ confidence to become the leading company in the production of aluminium fluoride,” diversified miner Metorex said in a statement.
Minersa owns and operates one of the largest hydrofluoric and aluminium fluoride processing facilities in Europe.
Metorex reported that the bankable feasibility study for the project would be finalised in December for board resolution, as the basic engineering technology design package was complete, and final costing and integrated design would be completed in the near future.
Electrical co-generation has been included in the design, to use the excess energy from the sulphuric acid plant, given the current power shortage in South Africa
In a further update on the project, the company stated that the full environmental impact assessment (EIA) has started, as the site selection study and the EIA scoping report was accepted by the local authorities in uMhlathuze – the newly formed city incorporating Richards Bay and Empangeni, in KwaZulu-Natal.
A positive record of decision was expected in October, or November 2008 as specialist studies were nearing completion, and rezoning of the property from agricultural and housing to industrial development was in progress.