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Phalaborwa

Palabora Mining Company – Excellent Quality Products

The Palabora Mining Company is located in the town of Phalaborwa, and was incorporated in August 1956. Being the only producer of refined copper in South Africa, the company’s copper ore-body started in 1956, and the open pit copper mine and associated plants commenced during the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. The Palabora Mining Company’s processing plants produced over 2.7 million tons of copper, making this Phalaborwa mine very significant to the copper production in South Africa. In 1996, the Palabora Mining Company announced the development of an underground caving mine, supported and motivated by feasibility studies done in 1990. This site has the production rate of 30 000 tons a day.

To understand the mine, you need to look at how the minerals came to
be,
and where these minerals originated from. Approximately two million
years
ago, violent volcanic eruptions took place over a period of millions of
years. These eruptions gave rise to rich area of minerals, known as
the
Palabora Igneous Complex. The ore body contains a unique collection of
minerals, namely phosphates, uranium, nickel, magnetite, silver, gold,
palladium, platinum, zirconium and of course, copper. These minerals
are
situated at a small hill called Loolekop.

Prior to this discovery, it is evident through various artifacts
found,
that smelting of copper ore and the production of a remarkably pure
copper,
was produced in the Phalaborwa area, in the early 8th century. Several
geologists realized the occurrence of apatite, a phosphate bearing
mineral,
in the Loolekop area, at the beginning of the century. Due to this
discovery, the development of modern mining started.

Although the Phalaborwa area is rich in a variety of minerals, the
primary production product of the Phalabora Mining Company is copper.
By-products such as anode slimes, sulphuric acid, magnetite, nickel
sulphate
and vermiculite are mined, but the marketing and production of
vermiculite,
falls under the Industrial Minerals division. The marketing of
vermiculite
is performed by subsidiaries in the USA, Singapore and the United
Kingdom.
The operation to extract vermiculite comprises of a recovery plant and
open
pit mining. Copper on the other hand, is mined by way of an
underground
mine, a copper smelter with anode casting facilities, a concentrator,
arod
casting plant, by-product recovery plants and an electrolytic refinery
tank
house.

The Palabora Mining Company believes and strives to achieve
excellence
in all its activities. To deliver a high quality product, and to
provide
maximum benefits to its shareholders, employees, customers and
community.
But most importantly, the Palabora Mining Company also recognizes its
responsibility not only to the health and safety of communities, but
its
vital responsibility to environmental programmes.