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Issue 32 of 38 Next Issue | Previous Issue | 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38
June 2007
Mining News discusses Small Scale Mining, the Minister of Minerals & Energy's budget speech as well as an interesting article on Mintek and what it does
 

SMALL SCALE MINING BOOSTED


While the perception of small-scale mining (SSM) is that it is cheap and dirty, what many people fail to recognize is that it is the biggest employer in Africa after agriculture. However, in
South Africa, A country dominated by the big mining houses, SSM has always been marginalized.

 

This is set to change with the launch of a new division of Mintek: the Small-Scaled Mining and Beneficiation Division (SSMB).

 

Previously the division was know as the Small-Scaled Mining Division, which developed appropriate technology for the beneficiation of minerals and offered a technical service to all small-scale miners in South Africa. In 2006, the division provided training and support for 780 artisanal and small-scale miners. Current projects of the division are to the value of R15-million and funding is provided on 50/50 split by Mintek and various donors.

 

The division is also active in a number of rural communities, not only in this country, but in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigerian and South America.

 

Dr Nellie Mutemeri, manager of SSMB, says the recently launched SSMB Division will continue with this work, but will also assist entrepreneurs in new ways. “We will assist with the application for mining permits; conduct test work required to draw up feasibility studies; commission plants, beneficiating ores and minerals and marketing their products.

 

“Our mission is to provide and promote innovative technology transfer, industrial growth and human development to the SMMEs (small, micro and medium enterprises) in the mining sector. For this reason our change of name is appropriate and matches our goal, which is to alleviate poverty and enable mineral-related SMMEs to a sustainable livelihood.”

 

To assist in achieving this aim, the division has introduced Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) as part of its mining and beneficiation programme.

 

This is in conjunction with the department of trade and Industry’s (dti) creative industries programme. Explained Takalani Rathiyaya, who spoke on behalf of the acting director, creative industries Nada Sujee, “The dti has a sector development strategy for a number of sectors it would like to grow. Its vision for craft is that by: ‘By 2014 South Africa will have a formalized globally commercial manufacturing and indigenous cultural craft industry’.”

 

Craft is defined by the dti as: “the creation and production of a broad range of utilitarian and decorative items produced on a small scale with hand process being a significant part of value-added content.

 

 

 

 

 

THE MINERALS AND ENERGY SECTOR MOVES TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY

 

The Minister of Minerals and Energy, Ms Buyelwa Sonjica, delivered her 2007 budget speech to parliament on 30 May.

 

In her introduction, Minister Sonjica said that: “The time has now arrived for us to successfully implement the policies we have so far formulated, which were mainly aimed at redressing the imbalances of the apartheid past.”

 

She committed her department to support the call made by President Mbeki to: “drive South Africa towards a sustainable energy supply with a mineral wealth to be shared by all.

 

The department has earmarked 63% of its budget to the electrification programme in an effort to meet the capacity problems manifested in frequent blackouts and fuel shortages.

 

Minister Sonjica described a piece of legislation due to be introduced in October 2007 that will mandate the use of healthy, safe energy efficiency, renewable energies, energy planning and environmental protection. She pointed out that these plans will only work if all consumers use energy efficiently.

 

She says that the electricity distribution industry is not working well and that there is an infrastructure maintenance backlog of about R7-billion. This challenge will be met by the acceleration of the EDI (Energy Distribution Industry) restructuring process. She has committed her department to spending R1.4-billion on household electrification and a further R380-million to build  10 new substations, which will electrify 150 000 households and 700 schools. The aim is to eradicate the backlog of all clinics within this financial year and all schools within three years.

 

Government, she says, is aware that most South African have only limited access to energy for heating and so the department has launched a pilot project in partnership with municipalities in Tshwane and Tembisile to provide 30 000 households with LP gas.

 

The minister is pleased to note that new black economic empowerment (BEE) compliant mines are opening especially in Limpopo and the North West provinces. She said that the prospects for job creation in the local mining industry are looking promising and she is particularly gratified to see the development of new skills in the jewellery sector.

 

Another aspect highlighted by Minister Sonjica was the use of the mining industry’s social and labour plans to, as she puts it, “intensify the struggle against poverty”. She went on to say: “We want to ensure that the communities where these mining activities occur survive beyond the depletion of the ore body. We expect the mining companies to act as a catalyst for positive change in areas where there could be little opportunities for economic and social development”. 

 

 

 

MINTEK – SPECIALISTS IN MINERAL AND METALLURGICAL TECHNOLOGY

 

Mintek, South Africa’s national minerals research organisation, was established in 1934 to foster the sustainability and growth of the minerals industry through technology development and transfer. This role expanded internationally, and today Mintek is one of the world’s leading technology providers specializing in mineral processing, extractive metallurgy, and related areas.

 

OBJECTIVES AND ACTIVITIES

 

Mintek’s objectives are to research, develop and transfer to industry novel and improved techniques for processing, extracting, refining, and utilizing minerals and mineral products. Specific goals are to:

? Promote increased beneficiation of South Africa’s minerals and mineral commodities by developing competitive and innovative processing technology and equipment;

? Strengthen South Africa’s international position as a supplier of mineral technologies, capital goods and services; and,

? Develop regional strategies for the mineral processing sector, concentrating on value-addition, capacity-building and broad-based development.

 

Mintek offers a complete range of process development services for mineral projects, from preliminary laboratory investigations and amenability studies to large-scale test work and integrated flow sheet development in support of bankable feasibility studies.

 

R & D HIGHLIGHTS

 

Project AuTek, a collaborative initiative with the major gold producers to discover, develop and test new applications for gold in the industrial sector, is now in its sixth year.

The focus areas are industrial and environmental catalysis, biomedical applications, and nanotechnology.

 

Three new projects relating to the use of platinum group metals (PGMS) in catalysis have been started, supported by South Africa’s Department of Trade and industry through the Advanced Metals Initiative.

 

Mintek is acting as co-ordinator of the bioleaching work package in the European Union’s BioMinE project. The project is providing Mintek and other South African organizations with the opportunity to interact with the European scientific community in developing the next generation of biotechnology techniques for minerals processing.

 

A DC (direct-current) smelting process has been developed to recover PGMs from high-chromium, low0sulphur concentrates, which are difficult to treat conventionally. Mintek is collaborating with an international partner on a programme leading to a feasibility study for an independent base-metal refinery and PGM processing facility, using the technology, in South Africa.

 

Mintek’s advanced process-control strategies for milling, flotation, and leaching circuits, and for submerged-are furnaces, has a high market share, particularly in the gold and platinum industries. The first system for controlling gold circuits was installed at a South African gold mine in 2006.

 

Mintek played a major role in the development of the local and international cyanide management codes. Gap and compliance audits are carried out on a regular basis for gold operations in West, East, and South Africa.

 

QUALITY, ENVIRONMENT, AND SAFETY

 

Mintek’s quality, environmental, and occupational safety and health management systems are certified as meeting the requirements of the ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 18001 standards.

 

 

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