BHP Billiton recently announced the partners in Samancor Manganese have approved the second expansion of the GEMCO operation in the Northern Territory of Australia. This follows the successful commissioning of the GEMCO Expansion Phase 1 (GEEP1) project in April 2009. The $279 million GEEP2 project, (BHP Billiton owns 60%) will increase GEMCO’s beneficiated product capacity from 4.2 million metric tons per year (mt/y) to 4.8 million mt/y through the introduction of a dense media circuit by-pass facility. The project is expected to be completed in late 2013.

The expansion will also address infrastructure constraints by increasing road and port capacity to 5.9 million mt/y, creating 1.1 million mt/y of latent capacity for future expansions.

“The first phase expansion confirmed GEMCO’s status as the world’s largest and lowest cost producer of manganese ore,” said Tom Schutte, president-manganese, BHP Billiton. “This second expansion will further enhance GEMCO’s competitive advantages and create additional options for growth.”