The National Industrial and Mining Company (SNIM) was created in 1974 by the nationalization of the Iron Mines of Mauritania (created in 1952 to exploit the deposits of iron ore in the region of the “iron mountain” Kedia d’Idjil , near Zouerate). The first shipment departed by boat in 1963. The government currently owns 78% of SNIM and the rest belongs to five Arab financial and mining organizations (including AFESD and IDB) that continue to operate the Zouérate iron ore mines. .
Project roll-ups and rectifications
Before being shipped to customers, the ore undergoes a series of treatments: The ore hematite undergoes a mechanical treatment consisting of crushing, screening and blending processes. Primary and secondary crushing is carried out in Zouerate where SNIM has 3 factories: TO14, MHAOUDATT and ROUESSA. At this stage, the particle size of the product is reduced to 90 mm before it is conveyed to Nouadhibou by train. Tertiary and quaternary crushing, carried out at the Nouadhibou plant, makes it possible to produce calibrated (6-30mm) and fines (0-6mm).
Magnetic ore is enriched at the Guelbs plant in Zouerate. Its iron content is thus increased from 37% (all coming) to 66% (concentrate). The enrichment is mainly dry thanks to magnetic separators at low intensity. In the case of oxide ores (upper layers of the deposit), they undergo a wet treatment thanks to the gravimetric separation. Before the concentrate is obtained, the particle size of the ore is reduced to 1.6 mm thanks to the primary crushing and grinding processes.
SNIM operates essentially two types of iron ores in the TIRIS ZEMMOUR region of northern Mauritania: hematite ore and magnetite ore.
The hematite deposits are located mainly at the Kedia of Idjil and M’haoudatt.
Kedia Idjil is a mountain range spanning about thirty kilometers in the vicinity of Zouerate. It was the center of mining in the early sixties.
M’Haoudatt is a chain of 14 km located 60 km from Zouerate. It was discovered in the late eighties.
The main hematite deposits currently in operation are T014 (Kedia) and M.Haoudatt. They provide 60% of the total production of SNIM. Other small satellite mines along the Kedia provide backup production when needed.
Guelb El Rhein, the only magnetite deposit currently in operation, contains several hundred million tonnes of proved reserves. The average iron content of SNIM magnetites is of the order of 37%.
They are currently enriched by dry magnetic separation to give a concentrate containing 66% Fe. The Guelbs plant where these minerals are processed has an annual capacity of 4.5 million tonnes.
The exploitation of all the deposits of the SNIM is done in open sky, with bleachers of 12m (Kédia and M’Haoudat) and 15m (Rhein).
All mining operations are carried out by SNIM itself: research, optimization of pits, earthworks, loading ships, rolling, drilling, blasting, rail transport, maintenance, etc.
Currently, 79 trucks including 43 of 200 tons are operated by SNIM, in addition to 13 drillers, 19 excavators and loaders and 40 earth-moving machines.
Development and Modernization
The guelb II project essentially involves the construction and equipping of a second magnetite iron ore beneficiation plant. The project’s works were launched in Zouerate on November 25, 2010. It mobilizes an investment of nearly US $ 750 million and covers, among other things:
- the extension of the existing mine
- the construction of an ore beneficiation plant with an annual capacity of 4MT
- the extension of the power station
- extension and modernization of existing ancillary facilities
- the commissioning of a water catchment field and a 55km adduction network
The TO14 extension project aims to create a buffer stock of around 1.5 MT. The new facilities will provide mining operations with sufficient autonomy over the loading of ore trains. They will also increase SNIM’s production capacity for so-called fine mineral qualities.
The rehabilitation project for the handling of Rouessa in Zouerate was launched in 2011. The ongoing rehabilitation works include the assembly of two crushers, the rehabilitation of a wheel-shovel, a stacker and part of the framework of conveyors and towers. It also includes the assembly of a wagon drag system.
The project, which was launched in 2013, involves the turnkey construction of two new preventations at KP 360 and KP 532 and the extension of existing KP 71 avoidance; this must allow the circulation of the fourth pair of the train. The project implementation works are the subject of a contract with ATTM, a subsidiary of the SNIM Group.
Launched in 2012, this project will enable SNIM to expand mineral storage facilities in Nouadhibou, given the expected evolution of mining production for projects to increase the company’s capacity. The project also provides for the acquisition of a new track excavator for the recovery of western stocks.
The Industrial Laboratory of Analysis of Minerals (LIAM) in Zouerate is a single-level building (ground floor) with a built surface of about 1,200 m2. The building will be equipped with circuits and equipment for compressed air, gas, ventilation, air conditioning and electricity corresponding to a modern laboratory standard, equipped with all the technical means necessary for its operation (tests carried out and analysis, grinding, sampling, chemical analysis, pelletizing, acid …).
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