Explore & Produce: From extraction to finished product

From manganese to nickel, mineral sands and soon lithium, and from preliminary engineering studies to processing extracted ore, we handle every stage in the process of crafting a finished product that's ready to be incorporated into alloys or converted into parts.

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Exploring world-class deposits

Specialising in mining, our teams deliver multiple skills, including preliminary studies, the construction of extraction facilities, handling procedures, ore storage and processing, and logistics solutions for raw material transportation.  

Both before projects and during the operational phase, we're active in project management as well as project ownership support for our customers. Our goal is two-fold: to achieve effective productions that incorporate quality, safety and environmental protection criteria.  

  • Manganese: active in Gabon through Comilog, as well as in Norway, in China and in the US, we are now the world's second-largest producer of high-grade manganese ore and manganese alloys. 

Manganese

  • Nickel and cobalt: our world-class mining centres in New Caledonia, through Société Le Nickel (SLN), as well as in Indonesia make us the world's number one producer of high-grade ferronickel.

Nickel

  • Mineral sands: in Senegal, we're exploiting a mineral sands deposit by continuous dredging. The world's largest mining dredge operates in an artificial basin in the country, vacuuming the sand 24 hours a day. 
  • Lithium: by 2021 we will be exploiting a vast deposit of this metal of the future near Salta, Argentina.

On our way to the connected mine

The mine of the future is already a reality: deployment of digital tablets to optimize safety audits; use of drones to carry out topographical surveys and cover 300,000 hectares a year; use of artificial intelligence to optimize our extraction processes; installation of connected sensors for predictive maintenance. For example, our SLN teams in New Caledonia use a system that connects geological data to our laboratory: they have real-time access to the analysis results of geolocalized samples. In Gabon, Comilog also uses a system to optimize fuel consumption in trucks. 2020 will see the commissioning of the first operations centers to optimize production at the SLN mines.

Processing raw materials: a cutting-edge skill

Once extracted, the raw material is processed according to its specific characteristics and future uses. To achieve this, our experts apply the appropriate process to the extracted product: ore processing, hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, etc. We deliver our cutting-edge expertise in refining metallurgy at many sites across the globe, including: 

  • Our plant in Doniambo, New Caledonia, where we convert nickel ore into ferronickel (FeNi) for the stainless steel market. Dried beforehand, the ore is roasted by melting-reduction, then processed.
  • At the Sandouville plant, we apply hydrometallurgical processes to convert nickel matte into: 
     very high purity nickel metal
     very high purity nickel chloride
     very high purity nickel carbonate
    liquid cobalt chloride
    liquid iron chloride
  • At the Tyssedal plant in Norway, ilmenite from mineral sands is converted into titanium dioxide slag and high-purity pig iron after being concentrated, separated and dried.
  • Based on Weda Bay ore, a project to recover nickel using a nickel ferroalloy pyrometallurgical process is currently in development, in partnership with the Chinese steel company Tsingshan.