Chemcol, the latest product in research and development (R&D) from chemicals supplier ChemQuest, is currently on plant trials and laboratory evaluations at three platinum mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe concurrently.
Chemcol is a modified xanthate collector, used for increased metal recovery and/or grade improvement in mineral processing.
“We have had very encouraging results to date leading to ongoing trials,” says ChemQuest MD Chris Pretorius.
Since the trials first started in June 2015, Pretorius says the product is proving more cost effective than a generic xanthate, which is traditionally used for increased recovery.
He mentions that it is challenging to determine how long the development process of a whole range of products will take. “It can take anything between three months to two years before products make it to mine sites,” adds Pretorius, who notes that this challenge is often attributed to mining companies and personnel being reluctant and conservative in implementing new products or processes.
He adds that R&D is a continuous process for the company and that it envisages eventually having a range of Chemcol products for various site applications.
Hoping to expand the brand, ChemQuest will continue to conduct trials at various mines for plant optimisation maximum efficiency of products.
“Only when presented with an opportunity can we start testwork on the mine sites and advise on the necessary product and equipment requirements for optimum chemical performance,” Pretorius points out.
For example, for plant optimisation, ChemQuest has dosing equipment for chemicals when used in conjunction with products that mines use. ChemQuest will then offer them more suitable equipment and advise on the proper use thereof, to increase the chemical’s performance, leading to reduced chemicals use.
“A lot of products are wasted if not used properly. Our job as a supplier is to find suitable alternatives for more efficient chemical optimisation and mineral recovery.”
ChemQuest also offers chemical handling and safety awareness training, accredited by the Services Sector Education and Training Authority. Presented twice yearly to all ChemQuest’s mine site end-users by ChemQuest safety officer Zulfah Mangera, the training entails education seminars on the use and handling of hazardous and non-hazardous chemicals.
Pretorius believes that education on chemicals is necessary for understanding safe optimisation and providing innovate solutions at mine sites.
“The biggest asset in our company is our people,” he declares, adding that 17 ChemQuest staff members have experience and expertise working in mining and metallurgy. They also offer free analyses in ChemQuest’s laboratory on activated carbon samples from customer gold plants, and advise on carbon regeneration and elution processes for carbon optimisation.
Further, the company also does frequent testing of chemical company SNF Floerger’s flocculants on site to ensure optimum use in changing ore types.
The company consists of subsidiary companies ChemQuest Africa, ChemQuest and Patlochem, with employees in Ghana, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Burkina Faso.
Products in ChemQuest’s range include CQ 650 activated carbon, which is used for gold recovery, SNF Floerger flocculants and collectors, as well as promoters and activators.
For froth flotation chemicals, ChemQuest also offers copper sulphate, sodium hydrosulphide, FloMin frothers and modified depressants.
The company also supplies electrowinning reagents, such as cobalt sulphate, FC 1100 acid mist suppressant and Stypres smoothing agents, as well as solvent extraction reagents and smelting chemicals.