JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Minerals beneficiator Mintek has partnered with Difeme Holdings Group on the development of appropriate process technologies to beneficiate quartz.
Mintek will provide technical services to Difeme – a black-owned mining start-up company with a focus on the mining and beneficiation of quartz to a purity standard higher than 99.9%.
Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Mintek and Difeme in 2016, Mintek was tasked with investigating the quality of Difeme’s Riemvasmaak quartz deposit, in the Northern Cape, through field evaluation, chemical and mineralogical testwork and comminution test analysis.
So far, testwork has revealed that the silica content is as high as 99.98% on some occurrences.
Difeme aims to produce 5 000 t/y of quartz at Riemvasmaak and a bankable feasibility study (BFS) on the project will get under way in the second half of this year.
The Lancaster Foundation will provide a R1.6-million grant to Difeme for the BFS.
Lancaster, through its enterprise development initiative, agreed to fund the study which, if successful, will help stimulate economic development within the country.
At a media briefing about the project, Mineral Resources Deputy Minister Godfrey Oliphant said quartz is one of the earth’s most abundant minerals, but few deposits can be classified as high-purity quartz, which is defined as having 99.995% silicon dioxide content.
Fused quartz is a material of primary importance, since it improves the efficiency of solar powered devices. Quartz glass is used in many facets of photovoltaic cell manufacturing, in light sources, reaction chambers, and tools used in the production of solar cells, thin films and silicon wafers.
Federation of Unions of South Africa general secretary and Difeme founder Dennis George explained at the media briefing that quartz is a key input for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, since it is used in the manufacturing of semiconductors, fibre-optic cables and ceramics.
George has a vision of developing a minerals processing and beneficiation plant for high-purity quartz for use in advanced high-technology applications in South Africa.