Raw material for Tronox’s titanium minerals operation comes from ancient shoreline sand deposits in the Cervantes to Gingin area of Western Australia.
Millions of years ago, the action of waves and wind formed belts of heavy minerals called strand lines. These now form the resource for Tronox’s current mine which carries the local name ‘Cooljarloo’.
Heavy mineral concentrates are mined using either dredging or dry mining techniques.
Two large floating dredges pump slurried ore to a floating concentrator which recovers heavy minerals from the sand and clay using a series of gravity spirals.
At the dry mine, earthmoving equipment feeds ore from above the water table to a land-based concentrator which uses a hopper and conveyor system.
As the orebody is mined, overburden and sands with little mineral content are returned to fill the void and clay residue is pumped to solar drying cells. The surface is contoured to resemble the original landscape, topsoil spread and seeded for rehabilitation.
Heavy mineral concentrate produced at Cooljarloo is transported south in triple trailer road trains to the Chandala processing plant.
The Chandala complex includes a dry mill, a synthetic rutile plant, and a residue management plant. The dry mill separates the various types of sands.
The plant is able to produce approximately 450,000 metric tons of ilmenite, 80,000 metric tons of zircon, 38,000 metric tons of rutile and 20,000 metric tons of leucoxene a year.
Zircon, rutile and leucoxene are either bagged or sold in bulk. Ilmenite is further processed into synthetic rutile in reduction, aeration and acid leaching stages.
Activated carbon produced as a by-product is also packaged for sale.
Of the 225,000 metric tons of synthetic rutile produced year, about half is exported. The remainder is sent to the Kwinana pigment plant to be converted into titanium dioxide.