Mintek has partnered with Difeme Holdings Group to contribute to the development of appropriate process technologies by providing technical services with the objective of advancing sustainable mining and minerals beneficiation in South Africa.

This initiative is part of Mintek’s beneficiation strategy, as the Difeme Holdings Group (DHG), is a black owned mining start-up company with a focus to mine and beneficiate Quartz (SiO2) to a purity standard of higher than 99.99%, which is very rare in the world.

Mintek’s General Manager of Research and Development, Dr. Makhapa Makhafola reiterated that with its world class laboratories, pilot plant facilities and high caliber research staff, Mintek is very well positioned to drive the countries mandate with respect to minerals beneficiation and value addition.

He also stated that “these types of projects need to be undertaken in order to make an impact and create much needed meaningful employment opportunities especially in rural communities”

Following a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) completed between Mintek and Difeme Holdings Group in 2016, Mintek was tasked to investigate the quality of the Riemvasmaak quartz deposits in Northern Cape through field evaluation, chemical and mineralogical test work and finally comminution test analysis and the test work revealed that the silica content is as high as 99.978% on some occurrences.

The Lancaster Foundation through its Enterprise Development initiative agreed to fund the feasibility study which, if successful will help stimulate economic development within the country.

Jayendra Naidoo, Founder of the Lancaster Group and the Lancaster Foundation, said “The Lancaster Foundation’s core mandate is to promote the development of Black owned and operated entrepreneurial businesses, and broader social development in South Africa.”

“By supporting Difeme’s bankable feasibility study, the Foundation hopes to contribute to something that could bring significant economic development benefits to South Africa,” added Naidoo.

Quartz is one of the earth’s most abundant minerals but very few deposits can be classified as high-purity quartz (HPQ) which can be defined as having 99.995% silicon dioxide content (SiO2). The HPQ end markets includes fused quartz crucibles, solar, semiconductors, high temperature lamp tubing and telecommunications.

Fused quartz is a material of primary importance because it improves the efficiency of solar powered devices.

It’s also helping researchers drive down the cost of solar devices.  Quartz glass is used in many facets of photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturing, in light sources, reaction chambers, and tools used in the production of solar cells, thin films, and silicon wafers. Riemvasmaak village in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa has unexploited deposits of rose quartz from several pegmatite occurrences.

This opportunity was identified by Difeme Holdings Group whose MD Dennis George has a vision of developing a minerals processing and beneficiation plant for HPQ for use in the advanced high technology applications in South Africa.

“Persistence Market Research argues that a new player in the market can gain market share of up-to 10% within two years of its production line up,” said George. “This opportunity really excites us and offers a ray of light for small-scale mining companies.”

Further test work has to however be conducted by Mintek to investigate the feasibility of removing/reducing the impurities to meet the required SiO2 specification for advanced high technology applications of 99.995%. Depending on the outcome a world of opportunity can open up for small communities across the country.

Work on the feasibility study is expected to commence during the second half of the year.