Zulu Development Costs Premier US$75 Million

Premier African Minerals 2

The development of the Zulu lithium project into an operational mine in Fort Rixon, near Bulawayo, has cost Premier African Minerals, a London Stock Exchange-listed junior mining company, nearly US$75 million.

By Rudairo Mapuranga

Premier African Minerals has been designing and implementing a more effective processing system for its lithium spodumene. The company is optimistic that the current tank conditioning will be the final plant modification needed to enhance processing efficiency.

“Premier sincerely hopes the conditioning tank will be the last plant modification. The Board remains confident about the prospects for Zulu. At this time, the development of Zulu into a complete mine has cost the company nearly US$75 million. This investment and the deemed valuation of Zulu agreed with our take-off partner are not reflected in our current market capitalization,” commented George Roach, Premier African Minerals CEO.

Shipment

Lower-grade concentrates will now be sold on an ex-mine gate basis, conditional on independent laboratory analysis in South Africa. Payment will be made immediately once conditions are met. Zulu will not be required to deliver production to port, nor will it have to cover transport and shipping costs, providing a small cash flow benefit.

The Zulu Plant

Optimization of the flotation circuits was only possible when Zulu could feed the plant at design capacity. This achievement came after the Zulu team resolved design deficiencies related to the classification of milled material. The identification and installation of the essential conditioning tank, expected to be commissioned by July 10, 2024, is a testament to the Zulu team and Enprotec as the OEM for the floating plant. The company plans to review the overall plant in detail in the Annual Financial Statements due for release on June 28, 2024. It is important to correct certain misunderstandings by some shareholders regarding Zulu’s plant, pit development, and water supply.

Milling Circuit and Hydrosizers

With the installation of the new ball mill and after resolving deficiencies in the comminution circuit, it became clear that only one hydrosizer is needed. Production from the mill and single hydro sizer exceeds the 37.5-ton-per-hour capacity of the float plant. Running the mill and single hydrosizer continuously could double flotation feed, enabling significant capital cost savings if and when plant capacity needs to increase.

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Ore Body, Mining, and Ongoing Pit Development

Test work for the correct sorter solution has commenced. In the interim, careful management of the pit and ongoing inspection of ROM ore will suffice. Zulu accepts a small percentage of ore from other claims within its EPO area from a local miner, complementing in-pit mining and offering employment to local communities. Zulu is not dependent on this supply. Pit development is ongoing, and in situ grades in the pit exceed those declared in Zulu’s independent resource estimate in mined areas.

Water Supply

The ongoing drought in Zimbabwe is well-known. Zulu has taken steps to carefully assess water usage in the plant. The water balance from the original plant supplier was significantly understated. Anticipating that Zulu’s storage dam might not reach capacity during the less wet season in the first year of production, the company took several mitigation steps:

– Arranged access to other dams near Zulu in December 2022.
– Increased return water recovery from Zulu’s tailings dam.
– Reconfigured in-plant process water reticulation, including installing a thickener.
– Constructed an additional large-capacity reservoir at the plant.

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