Smit Lamnalco has played a pivotal role in bringing two export projects to fruition that will see Sierra Leone’s re-emergence as a key global source of iron ore.
The marine support and logistics specialist has provided the turnkey services to assist African Minerals Limited (AML) in exporting ore from its Tonkolili mine, whose life expectancy is in excess of 60 years, with resources of an estimated 12.8Bn t.
Smit Lamnalco has been contracted for an initial five years to support AML’s fully integrated mine-rail-port transport system connecting Tonkolli to the port of Pepel. Shoreside, Smit Lamnalco has deployed four Damen-built 3212 terminal and towing tugs to ensure that ships enter and exit the port’s challenging approaches safely. AML already plans to develop a new rail spur from the existing railway, connecting Tonkolili to a new large deep water port at Tagrin.
Major Chinese investors include Shandong Iron and Steel Group, and China Railway Materials Commercial Corporation, and the exporter expects the operation to ramp up initially to 20Mtpa in its Phase 1 operations, and become by far the largest contributor to GDP in Sierra Leone.
In a second deal, London Mining Plc contracted Smit Lamnalco to provide a complete logistics and marine package to support exports from the upriver Marampa mine. London Mining plans to develop a production rate of 5mtpa of premium sinter concentrate by the end of 2013; this will further increase to 17mtpa in Phase 2 developments of the mine’s 25 year life.
The support package includes on-transit tug and barge services along 40km of Port Loko River from the Thofeyim River Port to Freetown Harbour. The waterborne transit involves four bespoke shallow draft Smit Lamnalco river tugs towing four 93m long barges to the coast.
Shoreside in Freetown, Smit Lamnalco has provided logistic support to the commissioning of London Mining’s Pride of Marampa transhipment vessel, operated by Bernhard Schulte, to load Capesize ships.
Both contracts have involved extensive Masters, Officers and crew training for challenging waters, operational procedures including safe vessel loading and discharge, and dedicated onshore management.
Smit Lamnalco Regional Director, Ian Hugo, said: “These are prestigious clients looking for logistics solutions and the type of integrated marine package that we specialise in: we do not simply provide ships, we provide a full marine package and expertise which is local, regional and draws on Smit Lamnalco’s global reach.
“Smit Lamnalco worked closely with both customers to develop operational procedures drawing on our strong SHE-Q culture, extensive experience in Africa and expertise in delivering international best practice in challenging business and operating environments. “
Mr Hugo said it had been imperative that Smit Lamnalco deliver assets and services to international standards to match the exporters’ aggressive gearing up schedules.
“That has demanded a completely open exchange of views that does not shy away from critiquing each other’s operations. We pride ourselves on developing relationships with our clients that allow frank feedback in both directions.”
To support both enterprises, Smit Lamnalco has established a nationally-registered operation in Sierra Leone to offer vessel management, engineering and financial services support.