Specialised chemicals company BASF Mining Solutions South Africa last month opened its new agglomeration laboratory, based at research organisation Mintek’s premises, co-located with BASF Mining Solutions’ existing sample preparation and solid-liquids separation laboratory.
Following the welcoming by sub-Saharan Africa mining technical manager Ncebakazi Majeke, BASF Oilfield & Mining solutions senior VP Damien Caby commented that the opening of the lab confirmed the commitment of BASF to play a vital role in value addition to the mining value chain. He stated that the Agglomeration Laboratory would serve a wider customer base beyond the continent.
At the lab’s official February 13 opening, BASF Mining Solutions technical development specialist Willy Cilengi explained that the establishment of the agglomeration lab was a natural progression for the company, which used the launch of its sample preparation lab five years ago to explore solid-liquids separation technologies, tailings management and enhancing recoveries and improving materials handling.
He noted that the agglomeration lab, combined with the company’s research and improvement of binder products, had broader implications for coal and ferroalloys miners, with regard to improving recoveries, extracting additional value through the briquetting of waste fines, and reducing their environmental impact.
Cilengi pointed out that the South Africa coal and ferroalloys sectors had produced about two-billion tonnes of waste fines, which could be briquetted to extract additional value, reduce dust pollution and improve handling.
He commented that the BASF lab would offer proof of concept, proof of product, proof of process and process and/or product optimisation testing for clients or mines, free of charge, as long as the mining companies made use of the binder products manufactured by BASF.
He added that the lab was working with Gauteng-based environmental consultant Picko Reclamation, which essentially acted as BASF Mining’s implementing partner, installing large-scale briquetting plants for BASF Mining Solutions clients that had seen the benefits of briquetting first-hand.
One of the latest projects involved a fluorspar client, and the modular plant should be operational by November, according to Picko MD Piet van Schalkwyk, who also spoke at the event.
BASF Mining Solutions regional marketing head Dale Walker agreed that declining ore grades and more complex orebodies had resulted in the operation of sustainable mining projects becoming increasingly difficult.