A Pioneer of notable Mintek technologies retires after 37 years of RDI

Dr Petrus van Staden, Senior Technical Specialist in the Hydrometallurgy Discipline retires from Mintek after 37 years of research, development and innovation career in extractive metallurgy that has pioneered notable technologies in the mining industry worldwide.

Petrus joined Mintek’s Hydrometallurgy Division in November 1983 after obtaining a B. Ing. (Chem.) degree from the University of Pretoria. During the period, he worked mostly on the extraction of gold and activated carbon regeneration. He invented the MinfurnTM, Minfurn a generation furnace used for the regeneration of activated carbon using Direct Resistive Heating which has been refined over the period and currently operating around the world.

He completed a MSc. in chemical engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand on a mathematical model towards the design of the furnace.

He was transferred to the Biotechnology Division in 1996 to assist in the process design and project management. A notable outcome from that period was a moderate-temperature agitated copper bio-leaching pilot plant that was designed and operated in Monterrey for Peñoles of Mexico from 2000 to 2002. The design and operation of a moderate-temperature heap bio-leaching pilot plant at Sarcheshmeh for NICICO of Iran followed this between 2004 and 2006.

He became the Manager of the Biotechnology Division in 2009. In 2016, was transferred back to the Hydrometallurgy Division into the current position of Senior Technical Specialist.

He received a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cape Town for a research thesis titled “Effect of Scale of Operation on Heap Leaching Performance”. The study investigated the extent to which segregation/stratification, differences in bulk density and differences in irrigation geometry contribute towards the differences observed in leaching performance between laboratory-scale columns versus commercial-scale heaps. Current research interests include process modelling and digital solutions for the minerals industry.

Van Staden said that his career at Mintek has been fulfilling, and has allowed the satisfaction of his curiosity to gain knowledge.  He said, “I have had a wonderful time at Mintek where I could design a few engineering concepts and put them into practice. I have been to many countries around the world where I have expanded my knowledge base.” He further said, “I had other opportunities but stayed at Mintek where I moved around different departments” He will continue to provide Mintek with research consultation part-time as a research specialist.