Project Title: On the production of iron based materials from high sulphur South African coal waste.
Research Theme: Value from Waste
Supervisor(s): Juarez Amaral Filho, Thanos Kotsiopoulos, Mariette Smart, Sue Harrison
In order to achieve market standards, the run-of-mine (ROM) coal in South Africa is washed. As a result of the beneficiation, part of the total mass is disposed in dump deposits with no economic value recovered, generating the well-known socio-economic and environmental liabilities for the mining industries. Furthermore, this waste contains significant amounts of usable coal and other minerals of interest such as pyrite and aluminium silicates. Using biohydrometallurgical processes, the sulfur contained in these discards can be converted into valuable products such as ferrous sulfate, sulfuric acid and iron oxides which can be utilized as raw materials in other industrial sectors. This study focuses on the development of a sustainable route for iron and sulfur recovery from high-sulfur South African coal waste by considering innovative and long-term solutions for the re-purposing of waste material from coal processing activities. Through a sustainable development approach, using circular economy and industrial ecology principles, recommendations to minimise downstream waste identify waste and processing opportunities as secondary revenue sources are anticipated outputs. Apart from improving resource efficiency and providing opportunities for coal mines to enhance their profitability through product diversification. This approach has potential for improving resource efficiency and providing opportunities for coal mines to enhance their profitability through product diversification.