To be competitive in the global ore mining industry, Liberia must focus on quality production, not quantity, of iron ore exports.
Currently, Liberian iron ore output is overshadowed by major producers in China, Australia, and Brazil.
With more than USD 1bn of additional investment, the ArcelorMittal Liberia Phase Two expansion project will produce higher- quality, higher-value 64-65% Fe ore and target a more sophisticated European market.
With this, ArcelorMittal’s construction of a mega concentration plant is fast progressing at the mine in Yekepa right before the eyes of host communities.
The concentrator is being designed to produce up to 15 million tonnes per year of higher quality concentrated ore and to later move onward to the production of 30mtpa.
When the AcelorMittal concentrator is built, raw ore will be hauled to the crusher using big tipper trucks.
Blasting will be needed at times when pockets of hard ore are encountered with the crushed material then stored in a stockpile before feeding the concentrator.
The beneficiation operation requires a major concentrator plant, which would be installed adjacent to the Tokadeh mine in Nimba County.
This takes the crushed ore from the stockpile and first grinds it to an even size before it is mixed with water and the iron is separated by a series of flotation, reflux classifiers, and magnetic systems.
Concentrator product – the refined material with higher Fe content – will be sent directly to the rail load-out stockpile.
The expansion project includes major upgrades to processing, rail, and port facilities.
That is the kind of high-quality grade ore that will sell and make Liberia a key player in the European Union’s Decarbonized Steel market.
Already, the steel industry is responsible for around 5% of CO2 emissions in the EU and 7% globally.
Therefore, the EU seeks to develop and commercialize new low-CO2 technologies within the next 5-10 years to be in line with the EU’s climate targets.
Ultimately, achieving a higher grade of ore means higher metal recovery and cheaper operational costs because it is generally known that low ore grades put increased pressure on operating costs while steadily increasing the environmental impact of the mine.
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