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Mintek CEO urges entrepreneurs to invest in mineral beneficiation

Dr Molefi Motuku, the CEO of Mintek, has urged entrepreneurs in the mining sector to consider the potential of critical minerals beneficiation as a means to drive growth and job creation in South Africa's mining industry.

Speaking at the North West Mining & Energy Conference held at Sun City on 31 March, Dr Motuku emphasised the need to dispel the myth that strategic minerals cannot be beneficiated in South Africa. He called on entrepreneurs to familiarise themselves with the critical minerals sector and identify areas within the mineral’s production chain where they can add production value.

South Africa boasts the largest reserves of platinum group metals (PGMs), manganese, as well as some of the largest deposits of gold, diamonds, chromite ore and vanadium worldwide, thereby presenting substantial opportunities for beneficiation. The process of beneficiation, also referred to as value addition, involves converting a mineral or a combination of minerals into a product of higher value, which can be utilised locally or exported. By channelling investments into beneficiation technology, mining companies in South Africa stand to increase revenue by enhancing the value of their commodities, while reducing their revenue dependence on the export of raw materials.

Dr Motuku discussed potential prospects in the fields of battery materials, energy generation, and electric mobility, stressing the need to process minerals such as lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, and vanadium locally to seize these opportunities.

"At Mintek we have the necessary experience, infrastructure, and technology to provide the technical support to entrepreneurs who have identified these opportunities. When you identified the opportunity and have secured the necessary funding, we encourage you to be in contact with us so we can provide our support as per our mandate," Dr Motuku said.

Mintek's mandate involves carrying out practical research and technological advancements that generate significant scientific outcomes aimed at promoting the growth of both new and existing industries, and addressing the challenges confronting nascent, emerging, mature, and declining industries.

The North West Mining & Energy Conference provided a platform for stakeholders in the industry to share ideas and strategies for growth, addressing issues such as access to early exploration services, social labour plans, and transitioning from exploration to mining.