A feasibility study was undertaken by Thakadu Battery Minerals (TBM) in 2017 to investigate the establishment of a 31,200 tpa Nickel Purification Plant (NPP) at the Lonmin BMR in South Africa to produce high-purity nickel sulphate for the global lithium-ion battery market. On the basis of the conclusions reached by the feasibility study, TBM and Lonmin signed an agreement to proceed with the detail design and construction of the Thakadu Nickel Purification Plant at Lonmin’s Marikana BMR plant. The complete EC&I component (Design, Management & Commissioning) will be managed and executed by Erudite Projects on behalf of MET-63 & TBM.
The NPP will be situated within the boundaries of the existing Lonmin BMR, which is located in South Africa, approximately 25 km east of Rustenburg and approximately 25 km west of Brits. The town of Mooinooi is located approximately 8 km south-east of the complex.
NPP Plant Design
The NPP has a modular design and consists of a number of pre-manufactured galvanized mild steel skids. A concrete slab of 20 m by 30 m forms the basis of the NPP foundation on which the pre-fabricated skids will be installed. There are two levels of skids, with the lower level accommodating most of the tanks and pump stations. The top level accommodates the filters, RO and UF modules and also the Motor Control Centre (MCC) substation and control room. Reinforced concrete foundation will be constructed around the concrete slab to accommodate the installation and erection of the plant building. The skids will be elevated from the bottom concrete slab with plinths to allow for spillage control and to prevent chemical corrosion.
The plant consists of two levels enclosed within a building and overhead crane structure, as depicted in Figures 1 and 2.
The ground floor layout of the NPP is presented in Figure 3 for illustration. The close-coupled bottom-level skids fill the majority of the concrete slab with the top-level skids mounted on top of the bottom-level skids. A number of free-standing skids are installed in the open area of the concrete slab and elsewhere in the Lonmin plant. The bottom-level skids will house the majority of the tanks and pump stations and have been designed to carry the filled tank weights as well as the weight of the top skids and their installed equipment.
The close-coupled top-level skids are installed on top of the close-coupled lower-level skids, as presented in Figure 4 for illustration. The top-level skids accommodate a variety of equipment such as the filter presses, belt filter, RO/UF modules and resin columns. The MCC substation and control room are also situated on the top-level skids at the center of the plant.
The skids will be pre-assembled with equipment pumps, valves, tanks and pipes before they are transported to the Lonmin site. Large equipment such as the filter presses will be installed on site by using the NPP’s own overhead cranes. Interconnecting piping between the skids and alone-standing tanks will be installed on site as will the skid interface piping and cabling.
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