Our Business Model

Mining

The ore body at Buffelsfontein consists of multiple seams and the method employed is a combination of down-dip stoping and breast mining. The two parallel declines at the Lesedi Shaft were developed on seam from surface. One trackless decline is used to handle miners and equipment and the second is fitted with a conveyor installation system for the handling of run-of-mine (ROM) material and waste.

Benefication

Ore extracted from the mine is crushed to minus 85mm. This ore is then fed into the Beneficiation Plant where the entrenched waste is separated from the ore. The design of the plant caters for the separate treatment and storage of different ore streams by operating in campaigns. The streams are managed independently in order to respond to quality variations, without impacting on stockpiling, plant availability or processing efficiency.

This allows for products from the two ore bodies at Lesedi to be blended in a controlled way, to achieve optimum processing during pelletising and smelting.

Pelletising and Sinter Plant

This involves grinding the chromite concentrate in a ball mill, pelletising a mixture of concentrate, coke, fines and bentonite which acts as a binder, then heating the pellets in a steel belt sintering furnace. In sintering, the pellets are heated to form strong bonds between the chromite grains to yield and agglomerate material. The sintered material is sized and then used as feed to the furnace.

Furnace Operation

Ferrochrome is then produced using submerged arc furnaces. IFM’s plant consists of two submerged arc closed-top furnaces, each rated at 66 MVA. This technology not only avoids the release of dangerous gases but is also more efficient, using less electricity than open furnaces.

Chromite lump ore, pellets, carbon, quartz and lime stone are mixed in a pre-calculated composition. The material mix is fed into the furnaces where the ferrochrome alloy is produced via a reduction process of the Chromite ore to elemental chrome.

Cogeneration

In response to South Africa’s electricity constraints, IFM undertook a Clean Development Mechanism Project in 2008 to convert waste gas from its furnaces to electricity. Through this project, IFM aims to generate 11% of overall electricity requirements and reduce its electricity costs.

Marketing and Sales

The casted alloy from the furnaces is crushed and screened to different sizes according to customer specification. This alloy is then transported to South Africa’s main ports by road for export to stainless steel producers around the world.

IFM has been successful in maintaining a diversified customer base across all major regions. Alloy is selectively placed and negotiations are appropriately timed in a manner to yield maximum returns under prevailing market conditions.

Rehabilitating the Environment

The entire life cycle of IFM’s operations is carefully managed from an environmental perspective. IFM provides funds for the eventual closure and rehabilitation of mines.