The goals and objectives of the Industrial Minerals Unit is to:
- Promote the beneficiation of Industrial Minerals in South Africa,
- Research and develop appropriate strategies, Technologies and services required by SMME’s to manufacture products from industrial minerals and other waste material,
- Establish viable and sustainable SMME’s,
- Support and assist existing SMME’s,
- Ensure that SMME’s operate more efficiently and economically,
- Promote skills development and training.
It is most appropriate for the Industrial Minerals Unit to concentrate on Construction since this covers more than 50% of the sector. The demand for construction minerals has increased over the years due to the boom in the construction and real estate industries, for the making of roads, RDP houses and stadia. The second economy finds itself more involved in the construction mineral mining subdivision.
Usually, the methods of adequate beneficiation and minerals processing are either non-existent or extremely rudimentary, leading to unsafe mining practices, safety issues, low recovery and production. However, construction mineral are available in all the provinces of South Africa. There are many applications associated with Industrial Minerals and these need to be developed further.
Currently, there is an increased demand for bricks due to Government investment in capital infrastructure and housing projects. This trend can be explained in part by the fact that Section 2 of the Housing Act, 1997 (Act No. 107 of 1997) compels National, Provincial and Local government to give priority to the needs of the poor in respect of housing development.
The small-scale manufacture of bricks and blocks for masonry is well suited to small businesses. Production can be carried out in the open, the process is simple and equipment does not require very high capital investment. Previous research has also been done on Construction Minerals, Dimension Stone and brick clays.
SSMB Industrial Minerals Unit supports the small-scale mining (SSM) sector on projects related to industrial minerals, viz
- Brick making
- Dimension Stone Cutting
- Ornamental Stone
The SMME’s are assisted to become legal entities. As much beneficiation as possible is done, and they are given help with a business plan and to operate as a viable business.
The Ceramic Laboratory is responsible for the analysis and testing of ceramic materials related to small scale ceramic enterprises i.e. pottery factories. Pottery has been a feature of the tourism trade and as pottery has emerged as a curio or artifacts for foreign visitors, there has also been the opportunity to leverage this craft and create a sustainable livelihood structure.
SSMB Industrial Minerals Unit is helping clients/beneficiaries to improve their products and profitability by undertaking applied research. The aim is to train and assist individuals/groups from rural areas to manufacture quality clay products that could be sold to developers, local government and the general public. In addition, the laboratory at Mintek is there to provide a facility to support the numerous interventions that the division has related to concrete and clay bricks.
The objectives are the following.
- Testing the quality of clay and concrete masonry material from numerous sites around South Africa.
- Product development through identifying the best end use for the raw material.
- Marketing and market development.
- Technical Assistance to SMME’s.
- Incubation of SMME’s.