About Grande Côte

Grande Côte is located on a coastal, mobile dune system starting approximately 50 kilometres north-east of Dakar, and extends northwards along the coast for more than 100 kilometres.  The mineralised dune system averages four kilometres in width and contains largely unvegetated sand masses.  The project area is 445.7 square kilometres.

Once GCO is at nameplate capacity, Senegal is projected to be one of the world’s largest producers of zircon and ilmenite.


GCO is the biggest single-dredge mineral sands operation in the world with operations managed by an experienced team focused on ramping up production to reach nameplate capacity by the third quarter of 2015.

In September 2004, MDL was selected by the Government of the Republic of Senegal (‘RoS’) to explore and develop the Grande Côte Mineral Sands Project.  A Presidential Decree was granted in 2007, providing MDL a Mining Concession of 25 years.

Ownership of GCO was transferred to TiZir as part of the MDL/ERAMET joint venture in late-2011.  The RoS is a valued project partner, holding a 10% interest.  Construction of GCO began in 2011 and was completed in March 2014 after 11 million man hours at a cost of US$650 million.  The project is based on a mine life of more than 25 years.

Mining and Processing

Mining operations at GCO are based on a nonchemical, large scale, cost effective dredge mining operation, enabled by the consistent and free flowing orebody and ready access to water.

The dredge moves through the mobile coastal dunes by floating on an artificial pond. Sand is mined from the front of the dredge pond and pumped to the floating wet concentrator plant (‘WCP’).  The sand is then washed through spirals, which separate the heavy mineral concentrate (‘HMC’) from the lighter quartz.  To the rear of the floating concentrator, a tailings stacker deposits the quartz tailings to fill the mined canal and restore the landscape that is progressively rehabilitated and returned to its original form.

HMC from the floating concentrator is then trucked to the mineral separation plant (‘MSP’) where it is stockpiled for batch processing using methods that require no chemicals.

The MSP consists of three separate circuits:

  1. Wet Circuit
  2. Zircon Dry Circuit
  3. Ilmenite dry circuit

Using magnetic, electrostatic and gravity processes within the MSP, HMC is separated into:

  • 575,000 tonnes per year ilmenite
  • 85,000 tonnes per year zircon
  • 6,000 tonnes per year rutile
  • 10,000 tonnes per year leucoxene

Once GCO is at full capacity, the dredge and WCP will operate 24/7 all year round.

Logistics and Infrastructure

Ensuring control of product from mine to ship is central to GCO’s cost effectiveness.  This logistics and infrastructure self-sufficiency is secured by virtue of owning and controlling:

  • Power: A fully commissioned and operational 36 megawatt tri-fuel (heavy fuel oil, diesel and gas) power station
  • Rail: Rail line from the MSP to the Port of Dakar in addition to ownership of locomotives and rolling stock
  • Port: Large warehousing and ship loading facilities and guaranteed mole access at Dakar port

About Senegal

GCO is located in Senegal, West Africa.  Having gained independence in 1960, Senegal enjoys a stable and investor friendly political and social environment.  Senegal is widely considered one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a population of 14 million.

Having avoided coups and military dictatorships, its relative economic and political stability have seen Senegal become a desired location for embassies and consulates.  The country is a member of the United Nations, is engaged in international peacekeeping activities and has a strong profile in many international organisations.

The government’s new development strategy – ‘Plan Senegal Emergent’ – highlights the country’s ambition of becoming an emerging economy by promoting a world-class economic environment, developing infrastructure and achieving accelerated growth.