Activated carbon manufacturer Rotocarb offers tailings retreatment plants in the mining industry a solution for their water-intensive processing and wastewater treatment operations that uses local raw material, technology and deployment to produce activated carbon, which is critical in the removal of impurities for water recovery and reuse.
Rotocarb director Brendyn Fahy tells Mining Weekly that South Africa is a nett importer of more than 700 t/m of activated carbon, spending nearly R200-million a year on imports.
With water being a critical commodity, Rotocarb, based in Levubu, Limpopo, saw a gap in the market to provide an environment-friendly solution to treat contaminated water sources and recover water from tailings processing operations.
“There is a big requirement for activated carbon and we are proud to be a local manufacturer, with locally designed and manufactured technology, and locally sourced raw materials. We are, therefore, not bound by any foreign currency fluctuations. Imports, on the other hand, bear the brunt of the rand:dollar exchange rate fluctuations,” notes Fahy.
Rotocarb offers stable product supply and consistent pricing for mines with processing activities.
As demand increases, the company plans on expanding its product offering into the Southern Africa Development Community region, for which it already has an import/export certificate.
Moreover, Rotocarb received its SANS 52903 certification last month, which confirms that its activated carbon is safe to use in water treatment intended for human consumption.
Eventually, the company wants to target acid mine water treatment operations; however, Fahy says it is challenging to find mines willing to test the material, since the existing imported activated carbon suppliers used to treat acid mine water have not changed in decades and mines are sometimes hesitant to use other suppliers.
Rotocarb produces its activated carbon from the shells of macadamia nuts– waste product sourced from an exclusive offtake agreement with a consortium of nut farmers and nut processing plants through South Africa’s Green Farms Nut Company, in Levubu.
The shells undergo pyrolysis and a steam activation process using a rotary kiln system, achieving desirable characteristics in absorption figures, strength and apparent density, while using the shell’s energy to drive the entire process. Rotocarb’s processing facility also includes gas handling and gas clean-up equipment as critical plant components.
Rotocarb has a 50 t/m activated carbon manufacturing facility in Levubu, which was commissioned in September, and plans to expand the facility to double its manufacturing capacity to 100 t/m activated carbon in the first quarter of next year.
Further, Fahy says, when demand increases, the company plans to expand, construct and commission an additional 100 t/m activated carbon manufacturing facility in White River, Mpumalanga, which will likely be by the end of next year.