Sundance Resources Ltd have continued resource definition and feasibility studies on the Mbalam iron ore project in Cameroon. Work focused on drilling of the Mbarga deposit, including commissioning of four additional drill rigs on site; initial resource modelling of the deposit; completion of a scoping study on beneficiation options for itabirite mineralisation; continuation of studies on project infrastructure, including rail and port site surveys; and negotiations with the Cameroon government on proposed development terms for the project.
Rail route planning identified a preferred rail alignment from the mine at Mbalam to the proposed port site. This route was selected after optimisation of capital and operating costs, and socio-environmental issues. The route avoids all population centres and conservation reserves.
The route optimisation work was undertaken using satellite topographic mapping data. This has been supplemented by detailed mapping from airborne laser radar (LIDAR) survey data, which provides high resolution aerial imagery over the preferred rail alignment. This data is to be used to progress detailed rail planning work and to refine costings.
General arrangements have been developed for the proposed export jetty site near Kribi, about 140km south of Cameroon’s main port Douala. Current design is based on an open water jetty with a dredged berth depth of 22m (chart datum). Bathymetric and seismic reflection/refraction studies were completed in the March quarter to confirm water depths and sub-surface ground conditions at the preferred port site. Detailed planning and design work is to be finalised on the basis of this new survey data.
Investigative studies are also looking at the possibility and implications of building a slurry pipeline as an alternative to the proposed railway. The same general route would be followed but the pipeline “offers considerably more flexibility in route selection.”
[ The existing metre-gauge line in Cameroon is unlikely to influence planning of the new mine railway, with which there will be no physical connection. It seems likely that 1,435mm gauge will be used. – editor