Chromium is a relatively rare mineral, with South Africa claiming up to 70% of the earth’s reserves. But neighbouring island Madagascar also has significant deposits, and it was to this, the world’s fourth largest island, that Indian exploration firm APC sent its geologists to scout for suitable mining opportunities. They struck lucky, and a one-day drive north of the capital of Antananarivo, APC has found and secured the mining concession over a vast 59,000ha area of chromite-rich land. This is APC’s first venture into running its own mine. The firm is using its excavators to strip the overburden, then expose and extract the chrome body. The excavators then load a fleet of haulers with the ore for the 1.5km journey to the beneficiation plant for crushing and processing.
The excavators are currently working on an ore body that is 25m wide, 600m long and 80m deep. The Volvo EC480D is well suited to the task, as these machines are able to cope with the abrasive nature of the material they are handling. Chromite is an extremely abrasive ore, and the rock buckets fitted to the excavators have had additional steel welded to prolong bucket life. Major repairs and servicing is carried out by Materauto, which also provides local customer support, under the direction of its general manager Alexandre Dupré, and a local APC team conducts daily maintenance checks.
It remains early days for the project, with mining sites opening all the time and production output forecast to double in 2019. The company has identified 120 potential sites within its concession that have commercially attractive ore bodies. But APC is also keen for the local community to benefit from the success of the project.
The firm has also provided important infrastructure to the areas where it is operating, providing 80km of roads, building three new schools and boring wells that have brought clean and fresh water to ten villages.
A fleet of six
2394 Volvo EC480D excavators are the key machines for an extraction operation in Madagascar. The new site is producing thousands of tonnes of Chromite ore every day.