There are artisanal miners at a number of ornamental stone deposits who mine the rock and then sell it at around R2000 per ton. It makes more sense for them to beneficiate the rock and add value at their site. Three groups of such miners within South Africa were identified by Mintek SSMB, and were trained to carve busts and statuettes from the stone near their homes.
We have assisted some miners with their application for mining rights to a travertine deposit near Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape. They are in the process of developing a tile cutting and polishing venture, and are prepared to assist stone carvers to locate suitable waste from the quarry. This material has the same composition as marble with interesting grey, brown, cream and white wavy lines. Like marble it is fairly easy to carve.
Aragonite is a sort of calcite and the deposit near the Namibian border ranges in colour from white to orange. Being soft it carves easily and takes on a good polish. This material makes beautiful statues.
There is a verdite deposit in Mpumalanga near Barberton that is being mined by hand on an ad hoc basis by some SSMs. This material is green and very suitable for carving.
Some small scale operators are making a living by mining various dimension stone deposits and selling the material on an ad-hoc basis generally to the building trade.
Examples of projects where Mintek is assisting are:
- Sandstone at QwaQwa where the seven SSMs have been registered and assisted to get their mining permits. A market study has also been done. One of these miners has enough orders to apply for funds to double his output.
- research and develop appropriate strategies, technologies and services required by SMME’s to manufacture products from industrial minerals and other waste material,
- Travertine makes beautiful tiles and slabs and the miner has a mining permit and a viable business plan to develop this industry near Port St. Johns.
- A BEE group was helped to drill their deposit which was shown to contain suitable black granite (dolerite).
- A group of women has been assisted in setting up a beneficiation plant to treat waste granite at a quarry in North West Province. A second group has been trained and are being helped to find funds to set up in Gauteng.