Mining The sands of the West Coast are giving up their riches.
new mineral sands project on the West Coast near Lutzville and Koekenaap has started sending product to China. Australian miner Mineral Commodities (MRC) says it will spend R5-billion at its Tormin mine to 2019 in search of zircon, rutile, ilmenite and garnet. Namakwa Sands is an existing mineral sands operation on the West Coast, owned by Tronox. Tronox is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and South African company Exxaro Resources is a 43.87% shareholder. The company has a mine and concentration plant at Brand-se-Baai and a mineral separation plant at Koekenaap near Lutzville about 350km from Cape Town. Ilemnite, rutile and zircon are extracted at this site and then taken to the company’s smelter at Saldanha Bay. Zircon is used in tile glazing and ilmenite is melted to become pig iron for use in engine blocks. The left-over slag is used as pigmentation in paints. The Cape Bentonite Mine (with five quarries) near Heidelberg is run by Ecca Holdings with another site east of Knysna at Roodefontein. Dimension stone occurs around Vanrhynsdorp (which also has some gypsum) and medium-grain granite is found at Paarl. Sixteen rare earth minerals have been identified north of Vanrhynsdorp, with the most prevalent being cerium, an important component of catalytic converters. South Africa is a world leader in converters. Other minerals found at the site are used in magnets, batteries and electric-powered cars. More than one investor has come and gone, but the acquisition in 2015 by Steenkampskraal Thorium Limited (STL) of the shares of
ONLINE RESOURCES African Mining Indaba: www.miningindaba.com Chamber of Mines of South Africa: www.chamberofmines.org.za Council for Geoscience: www.geoscience.org.za Geological Society of South Africa: www.gssa.org.za National Department of Mineral Resources: www.dmr.gov.za Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: www.saimm.co.za
WESTERN CAPE BUSINESS 2017
SECTOR INSIGHT Sixteen rare earth minerals have been identified north of Vanrhynsdorp. Rareco has given it the right to the rare earth deposits at the Steenkampskraal monazite mine. STL already had the thorium rights. STL has an associate company in Norway, Thor Energy. The plan is to mine, process and refine thorium for nuclear fuel applications in Norway. STL reports that Steenkampskraal has one of the world’s highest-grade rare earth and thorium deposits with an average grade of 14.4% rare earths and 2.14% thorium. Limestone for cement, agricultural lime and feed lime is extracted at several sites in the province’s western regions while kaolin is found in Noordhoek and Somerset West. Ball clay is mined in the Albertina district by G&W Base and Industrial Minerals, a subsidiary of the Zimco Group. Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) has operations near Riebeek-West and Piketberg (De Hoek). Slasto and building stone is quarried near Clanwilliam. Consol quarries glass sand near Philippi.