First Bauxite is developing the Bonasika direct shipping ore (DSO) bauxite project in Guyana. Image courtesy of First Bauxite Corporation.
Bulk test programme at the Bonasika 7 deposit was started in October 2015. Image courtesy of First Bauxite Corporation.
Image showing packing of bauxite ore from Bonasika 7 ready for transportation to the Georgetown port. Image courtesy of First Bauxite Corporation.

Bonasika bauxite project is a direct shipping ore (DSO) project being developed in Guyana. Guyana Industrial Minerals (GINMIN), a subsidiary of First Bauxite Corporation, is the project developer.

Feasibility study of the project was completed in June 2015, while construction of the mine and processing plant was commenced in June 2018. Full-scale mining at the project is expected to be started in the second half of 2019. Bonasika is estimated to have a mine life of 25 years.

The DSO project is initially proposed to access the idle kiln capacity available in the major market regions of Europe, China, and the US to produce ultra high-strength proppants (UHSP) products. It also proposes to produce sintered bauxite products for the refractory market.

Bonasika bauxite project location, geology, and mineralisation

The Bonasika bauxite project is located between the Essequibo River and the Demerara River in Guyana.

The Bonasika mining license (BML) extends in more than 18,940 acres and comprises five deposits in relatively close proximity namely Bonasika 1, 2, 5, 6, and 7, respectively. The deposits form a cluster known as the Essequibo Group in the northerly part of the Coastal Plain Bauxite Belt.

The deposits of Bonasika are low-lying and mostly covered by poorly consolidated sediments deposited in a shallow sea that advanced onto the submerging Guiana Shield during the Tertiary period. Most of the bauxite is exposed at surface and has been intersected at depths of 60m.

The Bonasika 7 deposit is a flat and largely continuous layer, which spreads out in approximately 1,600m x 1,100m. The 4.2m-thick deposit is believed to have formed by sub-vertical fracturing and in-filling following bauxitization.

The Bonasika 6 deposit has a thickness of 4.1m and stretches over approximately 1,600m x 700m. It hosts gibbsite, kaolinite, siderite and/or goethite, and Ti-oxides.

Bonasika bauxite project reserves

 The Bonasika 6 and 7 deposits are estimated to contain proven and probable ore reserves of 9.71Mt of raw ore, including both direct feed bauxite (DFB) as well as regular grade bauxite (RGB).

Bulk test program and production trials of Bonasika 7 deposit

Pit preparation, mining and ore beneficiation at the Bonasika 7 deposit was begun in October 2015 as part of test program and completed in March 2016. DFB and RGB from the Bonasika 7 deposit were packed in bags and transported to the Georgetown port for shipment to an offshore ceramic proppant production facility (CP Facility).

Bauxite mining at Bonasika

 Conventional open-pit mining, including loading and hauling, will be applied at Bonasika 6 and 7 deposits. Selective mining of the bauxite horizon will be conducted through excavators to extract DFB, RGB, and low-grade bauxite (LGB).

 The Government of Guyana has permitted to ship up to 40,000 metric tonnes (Mt) of bauxite, in 2018, from the project exclusively for product and market development purposes.

 Small-scale production, using contract mining and ore beneficiation, was commenced in the first quarter of 2018. The company shipped 1,000Mt of bauxite ore to a Chinese customer in June 2018 and more than 4,100Mt to a European customer in October 2018.

 An estimated 232,000t of raw ore a year will be mined from the two deposits to support a 25-year production plan. Bonasika 7 pit is expected to be mined by year 15, while the 6 pit is anticipated to last till year 25.

Ore processing at Bonasika project

Bauxite from the Bonasika project will undergo mining and beneficiation in Guyana, with calcination and sintering to be conducted in Louisiana, US.

Bauxite mining and beneficiation will be conducted in Guyana, while calcination and sintering will be performed at the Louisiana facility. The facility is expected to treat 232,000 dried tonnes per annum.

 Ore from the mine will be transported by haul trucks and stockpiled before being segregated by ore type. It will then undergo two-stage crushing with the crushed ore deposited onto the crushed ore stockpiles via a radial stacker. It will be then dried in a counter-current rotary dryer, followed by heat firing with diesel oil and stockpiled in a closed storage shed before being shipped to Louisiana, US.

The Louisiana facility will be located within the Port of South Louisiana’s Intermodal Facility (GlobalPlex) located near Laplace, Louisiana.

 The ore will be subject to calcination, comminution, agglomeration, and sintering processes at the facility. The sintered proppant will be forwarded to the final product handling circuit wherein it will be polished to improve sphericity and classified to ensure that the particle sizing meets the product specification. The classified ore will be further stored before loading out to customers.

Infrastructure facilities

Facilities at the mine site will include a diesel-powered generation plant, fuel storage and distribution compound, a mine office building, and a mobile equipment-ready line. Other facilities will include haul roads, production site, operations camp, a loading and unloading terminal at Soesdyke, and other support facilities.

Power supply for the Sandhills plant will be provided by two 1.2MW redundant diesel-powered gensets.

The Louisiana plant facilities will include a ship loading / un-loading wharf complex, site access roads, administration offices.

Electrical power for the Louisiana plant will be sourced from the local Entergy power grid, through a 34.5kV overhead power line. Natural gas will be sourced from a local gas supplier via a new 200m-long branch line.

Financing of Bonasika project

GINMIN has received $25m in three separate bridge loans from Resource Capital Fund VI L.P for the bauxite project development.

Contractors involved

JDS Mining & Energy was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the bauxite project in Guyana.

Ausenco Engineering Canada (Ausenco) was engaged in November 2014 to undertake the feasibility study (FS) and the NI 43-101 Technical Report of the project. Visiongain has conducted the market study for the sale of ceramic proppants.

Moose Mountain Technical Services (MMTS) was engaged to prepare site development costs, while SRK Consulting developed the detailed financial model as part of the FS.

AECOM conducted environmental and other related studies, while OPF Enterprises conducted bench scale testing works for the Bonasika bauxite project.