Arxo Metals owns the Challenger Plant, which is integrated into Tharisa Minerals’ Genesis Plant. The Challenger Plant is dedicated to the production of speciality grade chrome concentrates, namely chemical and foundry grade concentrates. Speciality grade concentrates carry more stringent specifications and therefore fetch a higher selling price. Arxo Metals has an offtake agreement for the sale of its concentrates to customers in the chemical and foundry industries globally. Arxo Metals accounted for 64.3 kt of chemical grade chrome concentrate (2018: 81.9 t) and 15.5 kt of foundry grade chrome concentrate (2018: 26.0 kt) in FY2019. The decrease in production was driven both by the overall reduction in mining and milling, as well as a reduced demand for the product in the chosen markets.
In August 2017, Arxo Metals entered into an agreement with Western Platinum, a subsidiary of Lonmin (subsequently acquired by Sibanye-Stillwater), on the operations of its K3 UG2 chrome plant and for the sales and marketing of the UG2 chrome concentrate produced. Arxo Metals unlocks greater value from the K3 UG2 chrome plant using innovative processing already in use at our operations. The chrome production for FY2019 from K3 UG2 chrome plant was 241.1 kt, up from 221.8 kt in FY2018.
Arxo Metals is also the beneficiation, research and development arm of the Group. Arxo Metals conducts extensive research into technologies and downstream beneficiation opportunities that have the potential to improve yields and recoveries at the Tharisa Mine. The creation of increased value PGM and chrome products through the expansion and optimisation of the Group’s processing operations is its core focus.
Arxo Metals has commissioned a 1 MW DC furnace to produce PGM-rich alloys on a pilot scale. The furnace, operated by Tharisa Minerals, has produced its first PGM alloy, and is ramping up to full production.
The production of PGM-rich alloys will further develop Tharisa’s beneficiation capability and thereby the profitability of Tharisa’s PGM segment.
Arxo Metals continues to evaluate low capital, low energy, value-adding beneficiation projects through in-house research and development.