'Working together to promote premier, multi-disciplinary research and development in the area of minerals beneficiation'

Strategic Minerals

Research to develop new and better processes for obtaining Rare Earth Elements is also a research focus of Professor Jochen Petersen, and a part of the theme ‘Strategic Minerals’. Cody Burcher-Jones’s (MSc Eng) development of an understanding of the processes governing the in-situ leaching of rare-earth elements from ion exchange clay deposits involves sophisticated mineral characterization, which is being undertaken by Dr Megan Becker’s CMR process mineralogy team.

Industrial minerals are known as ‘Cinderella’ minerals, often overlooked in favour of the more lucrative metal-bearing hard rock opportunities. However, owing to their importance in modern economies, there is significant potential in their beneficiation. In an undergraduate project in 2015 supported by a local limestone supply company, Corey Beavon evaluated the potential for increased beneficiation of limestone ores in South Africa, particularly for the manufacture of high value precipitated calcium carbonate. He has continued this work for his MPhil research project in 2016. Senzo Mgabhi’s (MSc Eng) is evaluating the potential of using limestone for ARD mitigation in a collaboration between CPU and HydroMet. This work forms part of new theme ‘Strategic Minerals’ and also relates to the ‘Licence-to-Operate’ theme.

Ongoing research of in-situ and heap-leach processes continues to evolve the older theme of low grade ores into the newer domain of ‘Strategic Minerals’ and the development of an integrated modelling framework. Buhle Manana’s (MSc Eng) electrochemical study of diffusion through pores in large particle leaching, and an aligned project by postdoctoral fellow Dr Rahul Ram, revolving around preparing particle ‘shells’ for such diffusion studies, feed into the development of a process model of heap and in-situ leach processes, which is being developed by Nicole Uys in her MSc Eng project All are working under the supervision of Professor Jochen Petersen with co-supervisors TK Rampai, Dr Megan Becker and Professor Dee Bradshaw. Eventually these projects will feed into the integrated modelling framework of ‘Mineral Value Chains’. Chiloane (MSc Eng) provided a basis for developing a framework for analysing the co-location of utility-scale solar power plants within metallurgical operations.





Buhle Manana
MSc (commenced 2015)
Project Title: The influence of diffusion pathways on the solution potential in mineral leach systems
Supervisors: Prof Jochen Petersen; Dr Rahul Ram

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Cody Owen Burcher-Jones
MSc (commenced 2016)
Project Title: In-situ leaching of rare earth elements from ion-exchange clay deposits
Supervisors: Prof Jochen Petersen; Tokoloho Rampai

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Corey Beavon
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development (commenced 2016)
Project Title: Relationship between mining and the green economy in South Africa
Supervisors: Prof Dee Bradshaw; Prof Harro von Blottnitz

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Nicole Uys
MSc (commenced 2016)
Project Title: Modelling of in-situ leaching of rare earth elements
Supervisors: Prof Jochen Petersen; Prof Dee Bradshaw

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Senzo Mgabhi
MSc (commenced 2016)
Project Title: The kinetics of lime dissolution in acid mine drainage neutralization
Supervisors: Prof Jochen Petersen; Prof Alison Lewis

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