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

Systemic Research

Systemic Research Theme

Systemic research projects are concerned with the performance of minerals processing and beneficiation systems as a whole, considering their interface with the environment and society as well as their technical or economic merit. Examples of these include acid rock drainage (ARD) mitigation; deriving added value from mine waste; developing tools for holistic evaluation and optimisation of mineral extraction and beneficiation systems, and their impact on their environment; improving energy efficiency; minimising carbon footprint, water usage and land degradation; and improving mine safety and mining company–community stakeholder engagement.

Acid Rock Drainage Mitigation Projects

PROJECTS

Alex Hesketh
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2010)

Project Title : An integrated approach to base metal sulphide tailings management and ARD mitigation
Supervisors: Prof Sue Harrison, A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst

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Annah Moyo
MSc (commenced 2016)

Project Title: Characterizing the environmental risk potential of South African coal processing waste
Supervisors: A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst; Prof Sue Harrison; Dr Juarez Amaral Filho

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Bridget Fundikwa
MSc (Duration: 2014 to 2015)

Project Title: A pre-pilot feasibility study on the use of froth flotation for coal recovery and sulphur removal from fine coal waste

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Christian Kazadi Mbamba
MSc (Graduated: 2011)

Project Title: Mitigation of acid rock drainage risks associated with coal slurry by means of froth flotation techniques
Supervisors: Prof J-P Franzidis; Prof S Harrison and Dr J Broadhurst

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Chucky Kunene
MSc (graduated 2015)

Project Title: Life cycle assessment of the production of xanthate salts and of their application for ARD mitigation
Supervisors: A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst; Prof Harro von Blottnitz; Dr Patrick Dicks (Senmin)

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Helene-Marie Stander
PhD (commenced 2012)

Project Title: Valorisation of Mine Waste: from Early Stage Design to Technology Transfer
Supervisors: Prof Sue Harrison; A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst

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Judith Irola (Onyinye)
MSc (Feb 2013 to June 2015)

Project Title: Comparison of froth flotation and gravity separation of the Waterberg and Witbank coal ultrafines in terms of mitigating ARD potential

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Lerato Kotelo
MSc(Eng) (graduated 2013)

Project Title: Characterising the acid rock drainage potential of fine coal wastes
Supervisors: A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst; Prof Sue Harrison; Prof J-P Franzidis

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Nathan Simunika
MSc (Eng) Graduated: 2014

Project Title: Predicting the time-related generation of acid rock drainage from mine waste
Supervisors: Dr J Broadhurst, A/Prof J Petersen

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Noluntu Dyantyi
MSc (Graduated 2014)

Project Title: Application of mineralogy in the interpretation of laboratory scale acid rock drainage (ARD) prediction: A gold case study
Supervisors: Dr M Becker, Dr J Broadhurst, Prof S Harrison

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Tapiwa Chimbganda
MSc (Eng) Graduated: 2012

Project Title: An integrated approach for mitigating the acid rock drainage (ARD) associated with pyrrhotite in nickel deposits
Supervisors: Dr. M Becker, Dr JL Broadhurst

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Energy Optimization Projects

In the area of energy utilisation and greenhouse gas emissions, Oliver Johnston (MSc Eng) conducted a study on the energy-related performance trends and the barriers and drivers for the implementation of energy efficiency measures in the gold mining industry in South Africa. His research indicated that, whilst the industry is taking the issue of energy efficiency seriously, decreasing ore grades and deeper mines have increased the energy and GHG emission intensity of the industry. A study by Lehlogonolo Chiloane (MSc Eng) provided a basis for developing a framework for analysing the co-location of utility-scale solar power plants within metallurgical operations.

 

PROJECTS

Projects
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2012)

Project Title: Solar Energy in the Minerals Processing Industry: Identifying the First Opportunities
Supervisors: Prof Harro von Blottnitz, Prof Jochen Petersen, Prof J-P Franzidis

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Oliver Johnston
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2012)

Project Title: A framework for evaluating energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions within South Africa’s mineral industry
Supervisors: Dr Brett Cohen (The Green House), A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst

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Mine Safety Projects

In the area of mine safety, Jude Bonsu (MSc Eng) developed a framework for investigating the causes of accidents in the South African platinum mining industry, using a combination of the Mark III version of James Reason’s Swiss Cheese Model with the Nertney Wheel and safety management principles. This study is being extended to copper mines in Zambia by Daniel Mabeti and Clive Mwansa, both part of the MPhil specializing in Sustainable Minerals Resource Development.

 

PROJECTS

Clive Mwansa
MPhil (commenced 2014)

Project Title: An analysis of mining accidents at Mopani Copper Mine’s Mufulira site
Supervisors: Dr Niyi Isafiade; Dr Wynand van Dyk (Arete consultants)

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Daniel Mabeti
MPhil (commenced 2014)

Project Title: A systematic study of mining accidents causality: analysis of a copper mining company in Zambia
Supervisors: Dr Niyi Isafiade; Dr Wynand van Dyk (Arete consultants)

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Jude Bonsu
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2013)

Project Title: A systemic study of accident causality in South African mines
Supervisors: Dr Niyi Isafiade; Dr Wynand van Dyk (Arete consultants); Prof J-P Franzidis

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Mineral Beneficiation Projects

Also in the area of systemic research, the project commenced in 2013 in collaboration with The Green House, a niche consultancy specialising in sustainability projects, to develop a minerals beneficiation strategy for KwaZulu-Natal province, supported four Master’s studies, drawn from the disciplines of social anthropology, economics and chemical engineering. Takunda Chitaka (MPhil) developed a framework for the evaluation and selection of minerals beneficiation options using multi-criteria decision analysis; Nikol Hearn (MCom) used macro-economic modelling to evaluate the knock-on economic effects of mineral beneficiation in the province; Luke Farell’s MPhil in PPE is exploring models for promoting and expanding multi-stakeholder engagement in minerals beneficiation; and Ayanda Manqoyi (MPhil) explored the impact of large mineral beneficiation operations on youth entrepreneurship in eSikhawini, a township some 15 to 20 km from Richards Bay. Opportunities for and implications of the development of downstream and upstream linkages are being further explored in other MPhil projects. Shuhei Kato is conducting a Richards Bay IDZ case study on the contribution of mining clusters to sustainable development; Gerick Mouton is exploring the barriers, drivers and opportunities for downstream PGM beneficiation in South Africa; and Sizwe Vidima is investigating loop-closure for phosphates into the provincial development strategy.

 

PROJECTS

Ayanda Manqoyi
MPhil (graduated 2016)

Project Title: Youth entrepreneurship in the context of minerals development
Supervisors: Dr Divine Fuh (Department of Social Anthropology, UCT); A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst

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Gerick Mouton
MPhil in Sustainable Mineral Development (commenced 2015)

Project Title: Sustainability assessment for platinum beneficiation in South Africa
Supervisors: A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst; Prof Harro von Blottnitz

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Nikol Anuschka Hearn
MCom (graduated 2015)

Project Title: An economic impact analysis of mineral beneficiation in the KZ-N province
Supervisors: Prof Tony Leiman (School of Economics, UCT); A/Prof J Broadhurst

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Shuhei Kato
MPhil (commenced 2015)

Project Title: Can minerals industry clusters contribute to sustainable development in South Africa? : A Case study in Richards Bay
Supervisors: Prof Harro von Blottnitz; Prof Anthony Black (School of Economics)
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Sizwe Vidima
MPhil (commenced 2015)

Project Title: Introducing loop-closure for phosphates into a provincial development strategy
Supervisors: Prof Harro von Blottnitz; Prof Jochen Petersen

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Takunda Chitaka
MPhil (graduated 2015)

Project Title: Sustainability performance analysis and decision-making for minerals beneficiation: a South African iron and steel case study
Supervisors: Prof Harro von Blottnitz; Dr Brett Cohen (The Green House); A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst

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Mineral Carbonation Projects

Also falling under the theme of value from waste is the programme of research into the potential for using mine waste for CO2 sequestration through mineral carbonation. Initial studies by Jacques Vogeli (MSc) showed that, in theory, tailings from the primary processing of PGM ores in South Africa have the potential to sequester ~14 Mt of CO2 p.a. through mineral carbonation. Subsequent laboratory-scale testwork has, however, indicated that, in practice, the mineral carbonation of these tailings will require relatively aggressive and high energy process conditions (such as high temperatures, pressures and/or extensive pre-conditioning), due to the inert nature of orthopyroxene, which accounts for 88% of the available Mg (Nicole Meyer, MSc Eng). Further studies by Mpendulo Ncongwane (MSc) found that current engineered processes for mineral sequestration of pyroxene-based materials are unlikely to be feasible from a carbon neutrality perspective. Other work in the area of value from waste has included the development of a novel flowsheet that employs flotation to recover monazite from a zircon reject stream at Namakwa Sands heavy minerals plant in the Northern Cape (Elin Tranvik, LTU, MSc Eng), and the use of platinum mine tailings to improve the quality of soils and ameliorate plant growth (Belinda Flood, BSc Hons).

 

PROJECTS

Jacques Vogeli
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2012)

Project Title: Potential of RSA platinum tailings for mineral carbonation
Supervisors: Prof D Reid (Geology Department, UCT); Dr Megan Becker; A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst

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Mpendulo Ncongwane
MSc (graduated 2016)

Project Title: A feasibility study of the mineral carbonation of PGM Tailings
Supervisors: A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst, Prof Jochen Petersen

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Nicole Meyer
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2014)

Project Title: A kinetic investigation into the dissolution of pyroxene: A precursor to mineral carbonation of PGM tailings in South Africa
Supervisors: Dr M Becker; A/Prof J Broadhurst; Prof D Reid (Geology Department, UCT)

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Process Optimization Projects

In the general area of systemic performance analysis and optimisation of minerals beneficiation systems, Harshad Bhika (MSc Eng) used the Aspen® plus simulation package to model the water balance of the Skorpion Zinc refinery in Namibia, with the ultimate aim of reducing water consumption. Mpendulo Ncongwane (MSc Eng) also used Aspen® to simulate potential processing systems for the mineral carbonation of PGM tailings, in his study on carbon neutrality. Dion Lusinga (MSc Eng) developed an Excel-based software tool for evaluating the techno-economic and environmental impact of different copper extraction routes. Zethu Dlamini (MSc Eng) conducted a similar evaluation for the Gamsberg zinc suphide deposit in Northern Cape province. Heap leaching was the most economically attractive option, but a higher investment risk, through not having been demonstrated at a commercial scale. Another systemic tool that has been used fairly extensively in the evaluation of the environmental performance of minerals beneficiation and industrial systems is Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Cornelia Ras (MSc Eng) used LCA to compare two different water desalination technologies for the production of boiler feed water for the Secunda industrial complex in Mpumalanga province, in term of energy use versus the production of large quantities of problematic salts. Veronica Munyongani (MPhil) evaluated the use of life-cycle based eco-efficiency indicators in strategic and design decision making, and whether this could add any environmental value to the processing of PGMs. Previously Mondli Guma (MSc Eng) explored the strengths and limitations of eco-efficiency indicators as performance metrics in guiding environmentally sustainable decision making during minerals process design, and concluded that the meaningful application of eco-efficiency indicators is strongly dependent on the decision context in which the process data is generated.

 

PROJECTS

Cornelia Ras
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2011)

Project Title: An industrial ecology approach to salts-related, environmental sustainability problems at the large, inland Secunda Complex
Supervisors: Prof Harro von Blottnitz, Prof Alison Lewis, Prof J-P Franzidis

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Dion Lusinga
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2011)

Project Title: A combined techno-economic and environmental analysis of different copper processing routes
Supervisors: Prof J Petersen, A/Prof J Broadhurst, Prof J-P Franzidis

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Glen Nwaila
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2014)

Project Title: A geometallurgical study of gold at Kusasalethu Mine, Carletonville, South Africa
Supervisors: Dr Megan Becker; Prof Jochen Petersen; Prof D Reid (Department of Geology, UCT); Prof J-P Franzidis

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Harshad Bhika
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2009)

Project Title: A systemic approach for the optimization of water usage in zinc processing
Supervisors: Prof Alison Lewis, Prof David Deglon

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Mondli Guma
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2010)

Project Title: Developing minerals beneficiation flowsheets for eco-efficiency: A systems approach
Supervisors: Prof Harro von Blottnitz; Dr Brett Cohen (The Green House); A/Prof Jenny Broadhurst

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Nomonde Solomon
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2010)

Project Title: Effect of HPGR on platinum bearing ores and the flotation response
Supervisors: Prof Aubrey Mainza, Dr Megan Becker, Prof Jochen Petersen, Prof J-P Franzidis

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Norbert Paradza
MSc (Eng) (graduated 2011)

Project Title: Understanding the hydrodynamics in a nickel reduction autoclave
Supervisors: Prof Alison Lewis

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Veronica Munyongani
MPhil (graduated 2016)

Project Title: Can life-cycle based indicators enhance eco-efficient processing of platinum group metals?
Supervisors: Prof Harro von Blottnitz; Dr Brett Cohen (The Green House)

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Yousef Ghorbani
PhD (graduated 2012)

Project Title: Characterization of chemical and biological leaching from large particles
Supervisors: Prof Jochen Petersen, Prof Aubrey Mainza, Dr Megan Becker, Prof J-P Franzidis

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Zethu Dlamini
MSc (graduated 2015)

Project Title: Techno-economic comparison of process routes to refine zinc sulphide ore at Gamsberg
Supervisors: Prof Jochen Petersen

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