Mining operations

The NAMPALA mine is a simple concentrator, entirely geared towards process performance. In a very unique way, it strikes a perfect balance between industrial efficiency and operating cost optimization, without compromising on operational safety.

During its second year of production, the plant processed very low-grade saprolite (0.8 g/t) and achieved a record 1,796,000 tonnes, which allowed recovering 44,946 ounces of gold for a cost per ounce of $643/once.

By systematically using computer-based tools, NAMPALA is a great example of how a mine can integrate PAO, MAO, GAO and logistics in its processes.

OperationSouth Mali
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OperationSouth Mali
Nampala Mine
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OperationMali du Sud
  • The project

    The project of NAMPALA is atypical for more than one reason.

    The ambition of this project is to develop and organize the exploitation of mineral resources in Africa that are qualified as low grade (<1 g / t) with a high level of financial performance, while respecting the highest standards of governance compatible with an exploitation with the international standards.

    To do this, ROBEX has developed the NAMPALA project for 4 years with an often offbeat approach, sometimes breaking with standard market practices in order to set up a low-cost industrial site.

    The Malian state is used to describing the NAMPALA mine as a “school mine”.

    In fact, despite being in compliance with all the usual international standards, the NAMPALA mine managed to structure its construction and operation around an innovative and streamlined organizational and computer backbone that ensured coherence and consistency. overall efficiency; all in :

    • Privileging a maximum of local resources at the level of the collaborators, the construction, the subcontractors and its financing;
    • Creating a network of experts working on demand totally integrated into the operation;
    • Coordinating all operations by a small but dedicated and committed group of expatriates representing only 1% of the staff working on site.
    • Intensive use of internal and external training (training of many Malian employees abroad) helps to consolidate this operation over time.

    ROBEX’s strategy is to focus on volume performance at all times.

    Our belief is that the sustainability of the business and its growth must be based on the optimization of its cash flow from operations in order to:

    Resist the variations inherent in the speculative value of gold.
    Create numerous growth opportunities by being able to address new “low-grade” projects, in a world where the existence of new licenses for grades currently addressed by reference players will become increasingly rare.

  • Statistics

    The NAMPALA mine began commercial production on January 1, 2017.

    The process is standard, but due to the very low grade of the ore, the methods of operations used (equipment, automation and controls) need to be innovative in all aspects.

    As a result, the year 2017 consisted essentially in tweaking and adjusting procedures. This allowed for a steady upward progression of the monthly production.

    Originally planned to achieve a production of 4,000 t/d, the plant quickly exceeded this target to reach 4,900 t/d in 2018, with a target of 5,400 t/d in 2019.

    The curve below shows the steady progression of attributable production (actual production per day).

    The specific challenge the mine is facing is taking into account the very low grade of the ores (saprolite, saproc, laterite, transition and sulfide) present, which also vary in nature and grade. Indeed, going from 0.75 g/t to 1g/t represents a 30% improvement in the grade upon entry, which has a significant impact on operations, especially if we are to optimize production costs per tonne processed.

    This is particularly important in terms of operations, for the purpose of optimized recovery. Indeed, at very low grades, the recovery rate is fundamentally dependent on the grade of the ore upon entry. Consequently, in a conventional concentrator operation, the recovery rate is a clear indicator on which you can rely for automation processes. That’s what we did in 2017. In 2018, we used more flexible recovery target parameters in order to improve operating performance and controls.

    Such an endeavour is also an attempt at reducing the cost per ounce produced, which also changes regularly depending on optimizations and production volume.

    ROBEX’s profitability confirms, from one month to another, that the operating procedures of the NAMPALA mine have allowed us to gain a substantial advantage over the quality standards of the world’s leading mines:

    Which translates directly into a higher per-ounce profitability.

    The NAMPALA mining site uses 385 employees, and 600 workers on site, including subcontractors.