The research projects carried out by the Mintek SSMB Division are supported mostly by budget allocations from the State Grant. These funds are used to develop both technology and equipment suitable for the small-scale operator, and to transfer this technology to small-scale miners. New and innovative products continue to be investigated. Other funders have supported research into the commercialisation of rural activities.
The Mintek Small Scale Mining and Beneficiation division has a number of in-house technologies that have been developed with the small-scale operator in mind. When these (and other technologies) are implemented, the miners are given training in the correct and efficient operation of the process.
Typical examples of this type of training are:
- Making Soil ameliorant (a mixture of fly ash, lime and sewerage sludge), or milling basic igneous rock into rock flour. The rock has trace elements and minerals suitable for promoting the growth of plants.
- The iGoli process – a simple, safe, and highly effective method of gold extraction. iGoli was developed to replace the use of highly toxic mercury that has been used by most artisanal miners to extract the gold from their panned concentrates. The iGoli method consists of leaching with swimming pool acid (dilute HCl) and bleach, and precipitating the gold with sodium metabisulphate.
Training has been given to ASSM’s throughout South Africa, in Mozambique and other African countries, as well as in Peru in South America.