Tormin Mineral Sands Operation is located on the west coast of South Africa. (Credit: Mark A. Wilson, Department of Geology, The College of Wooster/
Tormin produces zircon, rutile, ilmenite, magnetite, and garnet concentrates. (Credit: Mouser Williams/ Flickr)
MSR had mined more than 13.87 million tonnes of material since production commenced in 2013. (Credit: 51% Studios Architecture/ Flickr)

Tormin Mineral Sands Operation is located on the west coast of South Africa, around 360km north of the city of Cape Town.

The project hosts multiple high-grade placer beach and strandline mineral sands deposits, and meets around 25% of the demand for garnet sands.

Mineral Sands Resources (Pty) Ltd (MSR), the South African subsidiary of Australia-based Mineral Commodities Limited (MRC), owns the project.

Tormin produces zircon, rutile, ilmenite, magnetite, and garnet concentrates.

According to the company’s 2020 annual report, MSR had mined more than 13.87 million tonnes of material since production commenced in 2013.

The figure is also five times the Indicated Resource of 2.7 million tonnes, demonstrating the replenishing nature of the resource.

Project details, geology and mineralisation

Production from the project began at the Tormin Beaches, where the Heavy Minerals (HM) are regularly replaced by the transport of new sediments from deeper waters.

The mining was conducted over a beach area of around 12km located in front of the existing processing infrastructure.

The deposit is an active placer beach sand deposit that stretches up to coastal cliffs on the eastern side and open on the other three sides, and deep until bedrock.

Although production increased steadily since 2014, the inferred resources of the deposit have declined.

Total mineral resource for Tormin Beaches deposit is 1.17 million tonnes at 8.98% THM, as of 31 December 2021.

MRC secured the licence to extend the mining operations to higher grade Northern Beaches in July 2020.

The Northern Beaches, which include ten beaches directly north of and adjoining the Tormin Beaches, have a high grade JORC compliant resource of 2.5 million tonnes at 23.5% Total Heavy Mineral (THM) in Measured, Indicated and Inferred categories using a 2% cut-off.

The company also won mining rights Inland Strand areas, which stretch 5.6km in total length covering 75 hectares of high-grade mineralisation besides MRC-owned farm Geelwal Karoo 262. It is estimated to contain 23 million tonnes at 20.3% THM.

The Inland Strand mining right areas are part of the Western Strandline, which covers an area of 1,741 hectares. The Mineral Resource (2021) is estimated to be 193 million tonnes at 9.5% THM at Western Strandline.

As of 2021, indicated and inferred mineral resource of Eastern Strandline is estimated at 19.5 million tonnes at 3.3% THM using a 2% THM cut-off grade.

In July 2022, MRC and its empowerment partners Blue Bantry Investments 255 announced that MSR received De Punt prospecting right at South Tormin covering an area of 4,938 hectares and 13.4km in length.

It will allow MSR to commence prospecting activities on the Inland Strand areas contiguous to the south of the existing Western and Eastern Strand deposits.

In December 2021, MRC updated mineral resource estimate of Tormin Mineral Sands to 212 million tonnes at 9% THM. This will include 19 million tonnes in situ Heavy Mineral.

Mining and ore processing

Tormin is mined in a conventional open pit free dig operation using mobile excavators, front-end loaders, and trucks.

Since the commissioning of the project, the company has mined between 2.5 and 2.7 million tonnes of ore annually.

The ore is then transported to a Primary Beach and Secondary Concentrator Plant (SCP) located directly adjacent to the mining areas.

Initially, the ore is processed via a Primary Beach Concentrator (PBC) and separate the minerals by a chemical-free gravity process. Subsequently, the garnet is separated at a garnet stripping plant and the non-magnetic material is extracted from the HM concentrate.

The saltwater tailings are transferred back to the beach.

In June 2022 quarter, MRC announced that Tormin’s Run of Mine (ROM) volumes were circa 2.75 million tonnes per annum. The company produced 73,602 tonnes of final concentrates in the quarter.

Power Supply

Currently, the site is powered by four 1,250kVA diesel generators.

Under the new S102 Mining Right, the company can access renewable grid power via the nearby Eskom-owned Sere Wind Farm.

Eskom will supply current and expected future demand for electricity for Tormin operations through a connection to its Skaapvlei sub-station on the nearby Sere Wind Farm.

The S102 Mining Right also approved an expansion of processing capabilities including the construction of additional crushing and classifying facility, as well as the construction of a Minerals Separation Plant.

Contractors involved and offtake agreements

MSP Engineering carried out the process engineering, including PFDs, PP&IDs Mass Balances, and Process Design Criteria, based on the Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS). The company also submitted designs for the primary wet concentrators based on the beach and the secondary concentration plant (SCP).

The pre-feasibility study (PFS) of the project was carried out by MinSol Engineering.  It has also been involved in the testwork, design, and implementation for the establishment of the processing operation in 2014, as well as operational support.

Several other entities such as SRK Consulting, GEOSS, AEMCO, Middindi Consulting, MLB Consulting, J B Mining Services and Obsideo Consulting among others were associated with the project.

MRC signed agreements with GMA Group regarding production and supply of garnet stockpile. It will supply GMA Group with finished garnet product at 80ktpa between 2024-2025; 105ktpa between 2026-2028; 125ktpa between 2029-2033.