Africa|Components|Copper|Energy|Gold|Indaba|Industrial|Joburg Indaba|Mineral Processing|Mining|Platinum|Technology|Waste|Water|Equipment|Waste
Africa|Components|Copper|Energy|Gold|Indaba|Industrial|Joburg Indaba|Mineral Processing|Mining|Platinum|Technology|Waste|Water|Equipment|Waste

South Africa-linked mining luminaries advising on metals industry greening

Ian Cockerill, Mark Cutifani and Tony O'Neill

Photo by Creamer Media

Energy-intensive smelting eliminated.

17th January 2024

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – South Africa-linked mining luminaries are playing roles in an initiative to transform the metals industry with clean technology.

Being targeted for metals is the elimination of energy-intensive smelters, toxic chemicals and strong acids.

South African mining hall-of-fame stalwart Ian Cockerill, the chairperson of DEScycle of the UK, is now flanked in an advisory panel by fellow hall-of-fame achiever Mark Cutifani and highly successful local technology innovator Tony O’Neill, who was the leading light in the development of the world-first haulage truck powered by green hydrogen at Anglo American Platinum's Mogalakwena platinum group metals (PGMs) mine in South Africa's Limpopo province.

The novel class of deep eutectic solvents (DES) chemistry now being developed by DEScycle is initially targeting electronic e-waste recycling. Common items in e-waste streams include computers, mobile phones, large household appliances, and medical equipment.

As part of its growth strategy, DEScycle is developing mineral processing applications for nickel and cobalt battery metals, along with cyanide-replacement in gold processing, water-free copper and base metals processing, and simplified rare earth elements processing.

The low-energy, non-toxic metals treatment envisaged is set to lower costs considerably once piloting advances to commercialisation.

DES components are salts and organic compounds of a large number of possible formulations, with each formulation suited to a particular task.

The e-waste stream is expected to grow to $82-billion a year by 2030, DEScycle states on its website.

Cockerill became an inductee of the Joburg Indaba South African Mining Hall of Fame initiative in 2017 and Cutifani in 2019. The initiative recognises individuals who have significantly influenced the South African mining industry.


In South Africa, smelterless Kell hydrometallurgical processing technology is being highlighted at Sedibelo’s Pilanesberg PGMs mine in North West province.

Sedibelo announced its involvement with Kell at the premises of South Africa’s State-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) more than a decade ago.

Sedibelo shares an interest in Kell with the IDC and founder Keith Liddell, who conceived the smelterless concept in the late 1990s while working at South Africa’s State-owned mineral research organisation, Mintek, in Johannesburg.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




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