Wärtsilä to power QMM Madagascar mining project

8 November 2006 — Wärtsilä Corp. was awarded a turnkey contract in September 2006 to deliver a 20 MWe power plant for the QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) ilmenite mineral sands project at Fort Dauphin in southeast Madagascar. The power plant is due to be operational in April 2008.

The new power plant will include five Wärtsilä nine-cylinder type 32 diesel generating sets. The plant building will also have space for a sixth generating set. The plant will supply electricity for the ilmenite mineral sands project including the dredging barge, process plant, village and port. An Operation and Maintenance agreement is also under negotiation.

The generating sets will have full waste heat recovery to generate steam for use in a drying process in the mine plant. The electrical system to be supplied by the plant is isolated from other power supplies.

The Fort Dauphin power plant presents some interesting challenges owing to its very remote location. Transport of equipment to the site is a particular challenge. As with many mine or oil and gas projects, the customer is particularly demanding in terms of health, safety and environmental requirements.

Ilmenite is an iron titanium oxide that is used as a raw material for titanium dioxide pigment used as an extremely white base in paint. With a grade of 60 percent titanium dioxide, the Fort Dauphin ore body in Madagascar is the world’s largest known, undeveloped high-grade ilmenite deposit. It has an expected mine life of 40 years. The mine plant will produce high-quality chloride slag with a content of 91 percent titanium dioxide.

The Fort Dauphin project is operated by QIT Madagascar Minerals, in which an agency of the Government of Madagascar has a 20 percent interest. Managed by the Anglo-Australian mineral resources company Rio Tinto Iron, QMM was formed to evaluate large mineral sand deposits in the south east of Madagascar.

First production from the Fort Dauphin project is expected in late 2008 and the initial capacity will be 750,000 tonnes per year of ilmenite.