South Africa’s position as the number three supplier of iron-ore to China emphasises the strategic importance of iron-ore deposits in the country and its importance as a significant iron-ore contributor worldwide.
This is in conjunction with the South African government’s infrastructure development.
South Africa is the seventh-largest producer of iron-ore and has also traditionally been the fourth-largest exporter worldwide. The country increased the percentage of iron it exports because of the suspension of mine operations in Goa, India, in September 2012 , owing to contraventions in terms of mining without licences or beyond licensed areas.
According to the USGS, South Africa produced 67 million metric tons of iron ore in 2013. It also estimated, in 2013, that South Africa has 1000 million tonnes of crude ore reserves and 650 million metric tonnes of iron content reserves.
South Africa is an important supplier to those who wish to diversify supply or who value the blending opportunities that South African ore provides. In South Africa, specific obstacles that inhibit exports include capacity constraints on the iron-ore line.
The future size of the iron-ore market depends on global economics. China appears to be focusing on the development of urban areas that are satellites to the major centres. If that urbanisation level continues to increase, driven by a requirement for employment and higher wages, steel demand and the associated demand for iron-ore will also increase.
The international demand for iron-ore is driven by the largest steel producers in emerging nations, such as China. The main producers of iron-ore are not necessarily the main exporters of iron-ore, since some of the largest producers are also the main users of their domestic supply of iron-ore.
The economic downturn has affected steel output and consumption in many regions, with some, including Europe – which has been South Africa’s traditional iron-ore export market – still stabilising their economies.
Most iron-ore mines are openpit.
The biggest opportunity for iron-ore exploration and beneficiation in South Africa lies in the Northern Cape, as there are significant high-grade iron-ore resources, which have iron grades of more than 60%. This type of iron-ore does not need any value addition prior to export.
There are low-grade ores with iron grades of more than 30% in the Bushveld area of Lim- popo, which require some value addition prior to export.
For the beneficiation of iron-ore into steel products to become viable in South Africa, much still needs to be done to secure low-cost, available power.
Uses and roleplayers
Coal mining in South Africa plays a significant role in the country’s economy as it is responsible for nearly three quarters of Eskom’s fuel supply. The industry is also responsible for supplying the coal-to-liquids (CTL) industry, developed by the South African fuel company, SASOL, who produces around 35% of the country’s liquid fuel.
Coal mining in South Africa is centred on the Highveld, with roughly 60% of the country’s deposits located in eMalahleni (Witbank) and surrounding areas. MiningIQ, a database on coal mining in South Africa as well as other mining projects around the world, lists Kumba Resources, BHP Billiton (Ingwe Collieries), Sasol Mining, Eyesizwe and Anglo American Thermal Coal as the key companies actively coal mining in South Africa.
Iron is the world’s most commonly used metal – steel, of which iron ore is the key ingredient, representing almost 95% of all metal used per year.It is used primarily in structural engineering applications and in maritime purposes, automobiles, and general industrial applications (machinery).
Iron-rich rocks are common worldwide, but ore-grade commercial mining operations are dominated by the countries listed in the table aside. The major constraint to economics for iron ore deposits is not necessarily the grade or size of the deposits, because it is not particularly hard to geologically prove enough tonnage of the rocks exist. The main constraint is the position of the iron ore relative to market, the cost of rail infrastructure to get it to market and the energy cost required to do so.
World resources are estimated to be greater than 12 billion tons of shipping-grade chromite, sufficient to meet demand for centuries. In the region of 95% of the world’s chromium resources are concentrated in Southern Africa and Kazakhstan.
South Africa is the world’s largest producer of ferrochrome. The country holds about 70% of the world’s total chrome reserves, mostly located in the Bushveld Igneous Complex (BIC) ores, and produces 75% of the world’s ferrochrome. India and Kazakhstan are other major producers.
Chromite is mined primarily from the UG2, and LG and MG chromitite seams of which the UG2 also contains significant amounts of PGE’s. Thus several platinum mines produce chromite as a by product. There are several primary chrome mines, specifically maintained to provide chromite feed to the developing ferrochrome industry. Most of South Africa’s chrome mines are developed along the Eastern BIC, in the Steelpoort Valley.
South Africa produced an estimated 9,600,000 tons of chromium ore in 2009.
Samancor Chrome is the second largest ferrochrome producer in the world, with total chromite resources exceeding 650 million tons. These are expected to support current mining activity for well over 200 years at the current rate of extraction.
Samancor Chrome was established in 1975 as a result of a merger between SA Manganese Ltd and Amcor Ltd. In November 2009 International Mineral Resources (IMR) became the majority shareholder with a 70% direct shareholding in Kermas South Africa (Pty) Limited, who bought the group in June 2005.
South Africa currently supplies in excess of 50% of worldwide charge chrome demand. Over 80% of chrome ore output is consumed in the production of ferrochrome in South Africa. The remainder of the ore is exported.
Chromex mining’s projects are located on the western and eastern limbs of the Bushveld Complex. Chromex currently has a New Order Mining Right over the Mecklenburg farm in the Limpopo Province where it intends to mine chromite over a 10 year period.
The 271 hectare Stellite chrome project, located on the Western Limb of the Bushveld complex in South Africa, has a New Order Mining Right and 31.9Mt of chrome resources comprising four seams. The project has been extensively drilled and has had approximately 170,000 tonnes of chromite mined and sold both to the domestic and international chrome markets.
Chromex currently produces 42% and 44% metallurgical grade chrome concentrate.
Uses and Roleplayers
Xstrata Alloy’s chrome mining operations mine the chromitite deposits developed within the bushveld complex of South Africa. The Helena chrome mine is wholly owned by Xstrata, and lays to the south of it’s Thorncliffe chrome mine on the Eastern Limb of the Bushveld Complex.
Assmang’s Chrome Division consists of the Dwarsrivier chrome mine and the Machadodorp ferrochrome works both in Mpumalanga.
The strengthening effect of forming stable metal carbides at the grain boundaries and the strong increase in corrosion resistance made chromium an important alloying material for steel. The high-speed tool steels contain between 3 and 5% chromium. Stainless steel, the main corrosion-proof metal alloy, is formed when chromium is added to iron in sufficient concentrations, usually above 11%. For its formation, ferrochromium is added to the molten iron. Also nickel-based alloys increase in strength due to the formation of discrete, stable metal carbide particles at the grain boundaries. For example,Inconel 718 contains 18.6% chromium. Because of the excellent high-temperature properties of these nickel superalloys, they are used in jet engines and gas turbines in lieu of common structural materials.
The relative high hardness and corrosion resistance of unalloyed chromium makes it a good surface coating, being still the most “popular” metal coating with unparalleled combined durability.
South Africa ended its 2009 coal production with 250.02 million tonnes, 4.13% of the world total. The world’s major producers are China, the USA, India, Australia, Russia, Indonesia and South Africa.
South Africa ended 2009 coal consumption with 99.43 million tonnes oil equivalent, 3.03% of the world total. South Africa is Africa’s only significant coal consuming nation.
South Africa is currently the fifth largest coal producing country in the world, producing, on average, around 224 million ton of marketable coal each year. Currently, about 77% of South Africa’s primary energy needs are provided by coal. Due to the relative lack of suitable alternatives, this situation is unlikely to change over the next 10 years.
Coal’s role as a fossil fuel is likely to become increasingly important in a world in which concerns over energy security are rising and demand for energy is growing strongly. According to the World Coal Institute, proven coal reserves are sufficient to sustain production at current levels for 147 years.
According to the 2009 BP Statistical Energy Survey, South Africa had 2008 coal production of 250.39 million tonnes, 4.24% of the world total. South Africa’s coal production was valued at approximately R59.9Bn in 2009.
According to the 2009 BP Statistical Energy Survey, South Africa had end 2008 coal reserves of 30408 million tonnes, 3.68% of the world total. This figure differs somewhat from those published by Eskom in 2009, which state that South Africa’s coal reserves are estimated to be 53 billion tonnes.
South Africa is the world’s third largest coal exporting country, exporting 25% of its production internationally. South Africa uses 53% of the balance of its coal production for electricity generation, 33% for petrochemical industries (Sasol), 12 % for metallurgical industries (Iscor) and 2% for domestic heating and cooking. Eskom is the 11th largest electricity generator in the world, while Sasol is the largest coal-to-chemicals producer.
The main challenge to the ongoing use of coal as an energy source is environmental concerns.
About 51% of South African coal mining in carried out underground, with the balance produced by open cast methods. The industry is highly concentrated, with a handful of companies producing about 80% of the saleable coal production. More than 58 000 workers are employed in this industry.
Uses and Roleplayers
Most of the country’s coal is currently mined in the Highveld, Witbank and Ermelo coalfields located in Mpumalanga province. Geology has determined that the Witbank coalfield is by far the most important source of South Africa’s mined coal at present. However, the future of South Africa’s coal industry depends on the development of the Waterberg deposits, which extend into Botswana.
Throughout history, coal has been used as an energy resource, primarily burned for the production of electricity and/or heat, and is also used for industrial purposes, such as refining metals. A fossil fuel, coal forms when dead plant matter is converted into peat, which in turn is converted into lignite, then sub-bituminous coal, after that bituminous coal, and lastly anthracite. This involves biological and geological processes that take place over a long period. The Energy Information Administration estimates coal reserves at 948×109 short tons (860 Gt). One estimate for resources is 18 000 Gt.
Coal is the largest source of energy for the generation of electricity worldwide. Coal is extracted from the ground by coal mining, either underground by shaft mining, or at ground level by open pit miningextraction.
South Africa currently accounts for about 75% of the world’s identified manganese resources. These mostly occur near Hotazel in the Northern Cape Province. According to the USGS, reserves were estimated at 15 billion tons in 2011. South Africa was the world’s largest producer of manganese in 2011, producing 3.4 million tons.
For the production of ferromanganese, the manganese ore is mixed with iron ore and carbon, and then reduced either in a blast furnace or in an electric arc furnace.The resulting ferromanganese has a manganese content of 30 to 80%.Pure manganese used for the production of iron-free alloys is produced by leaching manganese ore with sulfuric acid and a subsequent electrowinning process.
A more progressive extraction process involves directly reducing manganese ore in a heap leach. This is done by percolating natural gas through the bottom of the heap; the natural gas provides the heat (needs to be at least 850 °C) and the reducing agent (carbon monoxide). This reduces all of the manganese ore to manganese oxide, which is a leachable form. The ore then travels through a grinding circuit to reduce the particle size of the ore to between 150–250 μm, this increases the surface area to aid in the leaching process. The ore is then added to a leach tank, which contains sulfuric acid and ferrous iron.
The iron reacts with the manganese dioxide to form iron hydroxide and elemental manganese. This process yields approximately 92% recovery of the manganese. For further purification, the manganese can then be sent to an electrowinning facility.
Manganese is essential to iron and steel production by virtue of its sulfur-fixing, deoxidizing, and alloying properties.Steelmaking, including its ironmaking component, has accounted for most manganese demand, presently in the range of 85% to 90% of the total demand. Among a variety of other uses, manganese is a key component of low-cost stainless steel formulations.
Small amounts of manganese improve the workability of steel at high temperatures, because it forms a high-melting sulfide and therefore prevents the formation of a liquid iron sulfide at the grain boundaries. If the manganese content reaches 4%, the embrittlement of the steel becomes a dominant feature. The embrittlement decreases at higher manganese concentrations and reaches an acceptable level at 8%. Steel containing 8 to 15% of manganese can have a high tensile strength of up to 863 Mpa. Steel with 12% manganese was used for British steel helmets. This steel composition was discovered in 1882 by Robert Hadfield and is still known as Hadfield steel.
Uses and roleplayers
The second large application for manganese is as an alloying agent for aluminium. Aluminium with a manganese content of roughly 1.5% has an increased resistance against corrosion due to the formation of grains absorbing impurities which would lead to galvanic corrosion. The corrosion-resistant aluminium alloys 3004 and 3104 with a manganese content of 0.8 to 1.5% are the alloys used for most of the beverage cans. Before year 2000, more than 1.6 million tonnes have been used of those alloys; with a content of 1% manganese, this amount would need 16,000 tonnes of manganese.
A new shaft complex, Nchwaning No 3 became fully operational in February 2006. This new mining operation has a hoisting capacity of +/- 200000 tons per month.
In 1997, Assmang formed a joint venture company, Cato Ridge Alloys, on its Cato Ridge site to produce medium and low carbon ferro-manganese alloys. In 2005, a metal from slag recovery plant with a capacity of 16000mt per annum of saleable product was commissioned. Improvements at this plant are ongoing.
Copper has been in use for at least 10,000 years, but more than 96% of all copper ever mined and smelted has been extracted since 1900, and more than half was extracted in only the last 24 years.
Copper is the only naturally occurring metal other than gold that has a distinctive colour.
Copper isn’t just pretty – it’s extremely useful. Since industrialisation in the late 1800s it has become vital in the construction of buildings and power generation – because it is the best conductor of heat and electricity of all metals.
As with many natural resources, the total amount of copper on Earth is vast (around 10 tonnes just in the top kilometre of Earth’s crust, or about 5 million years’ worth at the current rate of extraction).
However, only a tiny fraction of these reserves is economically viable, given present-day prices and technologies. Various estimates of existing copper reserves available for mining vary from 25 years to 60 years, depending on core assumptions such as the growth rate.
Africa produces about 900 000 tonnes of copper a year, with the Copperbelt region, including Zambia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, accounting for about 9% of the total raw material copper that is mined in the world.
South Africa is not a major copper producer, with the US Geological Survey estimating its output at about 100,000 tons a year. However, Anglo American, a major company on the JSE, is a copper producer with assets in Chile, the world’s largest source of copper.
Chile was expected to produce nearly 5.6-million tons of copper last year, up 3% from the previous year — Chile is the source of about a third of the world’s mined copper.
South Africa’s primary copper reserves are slowly being depleted; the country will soon need assistance from other African copper mines – particularly those in the Copperbelt region – for additional supply.
Currently, South Africa’s primary reserves are decreasing because the local primary copper mines are nearing their end-of-life. Remaining copper mines in South Africa do not have enough sustainable capacity and reserves to provide the necessary supply required by the local industry.
Industrialisation and the building of infrastructure rely on copper. As the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) points out, small handicraft outlets have been transformed into large factories with electricity – which in turn have created the need for copper-based railways for distribution and copper-based telephone systems for communications.
Copper is used so widely for industrialisation and infrastructure projects, and because of this it is often seen as a thermometer for the global economy.
A cooling in the price of copper indicates a drop off in the demand to build infrastructure – which doesn’t bode well for the economy.
In 1999 the price of copper hit a 60-year low – as demand from post-industrial societies slowed, according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS). But in the last decade, the rapid industrialisation of China has spurred copper prices ahead again – to reach an all-time high of just above $10 000 a tonne in February of 2011.
According to the ICSG’s latest figures, China is by far the largest consumer of refined copper – accounting for about 40% of world demand. The demand for copper has created a robust international trade – and the market for illicit copper is rising alongside it.
The price of copper has historically been unstable, and it sextupled from the 60-year low of $1.32/kg (R14.61 per kg) in June 1999 to $8.27/kg (R91.51 per kg) in May 2006. It dropped to $5.29/kg (R58.54 per kg) in February 2007, then rebounded to $7.71/kg (R85.32 per kg) in April 2007.
In addition, legal and illegal copper scrap dealers are exporting copper at rates that vary from about R70 000/t to R80 000/t, which is creating greater demand for copper scrap in the local industry. Therefore, a key goal of the Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA) is to curb the export of copper so that it can be beneficiated by the local copper industry.
The global copper market was in a surplus of 214,000 tonnes last year.
Uses and Roleplayers
The average home has 180kg of copper for electrical wiring, water pipes and appliances, according to the Copper Development Association Africa (CDAA).
Most copper in use, such as wiring and plumbing, will remain in use for more than half a century.
Presently, copper is used in building construction, power generation and transmission, electronic product manufacturing, and the production of industrial machinery and transportation vehicles.
Copper wiring and plumbing are integral to the appliances, heating and cooling systems, and telecommunications links used every day in homes and businesses. Copper is an essential component in the motors, wiring, radiators, connectors, brakes, and bearings used in cars and trucks.
The average car contains 1.5 kilometres of copper wire, and the total amount of copper ranges from 20 kilograms in small cars to 45 kilograms in luxury and hybrid vehicles.
The extraction of nickel from ore follows much the same route as copper, and indeed, in a number of cases, similar processes and equipment are used. The major differences in equipment are the use of higher-temperature refractories and the increased cooling required to accommodate the higher operating temperatures in nickel production. The specific processes taken depend on whether the ore is a sulfide or a laterite. In the case of sulfides, the reaction of oxygen with iron and sulfur in the ore supplies a portion of the heat required for smelting. Oxide ores, on the other hand, do not produce the same reaction heats, making necessary the use of energy from other sources for smelting.
The use of nickel (as a natural meteoric nickel–iron alloy) has been traced as far back as 3500 BC. Nickel was first isolated and classified as a chemical element in 1751 by Axel Fredrik Cronstedt, who initially mistook its ore for a copper mineral. The element’s name comes from a mischievous sprite of German miner mythology, Nickel (similar to Old Nick), that personified the fact that copper-nickel ores resisted refinement into copper. An economically important source of nickel is the iron ore limonite, which often contains 1-2% nickel. Nickel’s other important ore minerals include garnierite, and pentlandite.
Because of nickel’s slow rate of oxidation at room temperature, it is considered corrosion-resistant.
Historically, this has led to its use for plating metals such as iron and brass, coating chemistry equipment, and manufacturing certain alloys that retain a high silvery polish, such as German silver. About 6% of world nickel production is still used for corrosion-resistant pure-nickel plating. Nickel-plated items are noted for provoking nickel allergy. Nickel has been widely used in coins, though its rising price has led to some replacement with cheaper metals in recent years.
Identified land-based resources averaging 1% nickel or greater contain at least 130 million tons of nickel. About 60% is in laterites and 40% is in sulfide deposits. In addition, extensive deep-sea resources of nickel are in manganese crusts and nodules covering large areas of the ocean floor, particularly in the Pacific Ocean.
Uses and Roleplayers
Nickel is recovered through extractive metallurgy: it is extracted from its ores by conventional roasting and reduction processes that yield a metal of greater than 75% purity. In many stainless steel applications, 75% pure nickel can be used without further purification, depending on the composition of the impurities.
Most sulfide ores have traditionally been processed using pyrometallurgical techniques to produce a matter for further refining. Recent advances in hydrometallurgical techniqueshave resulted in significant nickel purification using these processes.
The US nickel coin contains 0.04 ounces (1.1 g) of nickel, which at the April 2007 price was worth 6.5 cents, along with 3.75 grams of copper worth about 3 cents, making the metal value over 9 cents. Since the face value of a nickel is 5 cents, this made it an attractive target for melting by people wanting to sell the metals at a profit. However, the United States Mint, in anticipation of this practice, implemented new interim rules on December 14, 2006, subject to public comment for 30 days, which criminalized the melting and export of cents and nickels. Violators can be punished with a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisoned for a maximum of five years.
The history of platinum mining can be traced as far back as Ancient Egypt, where platinum – probably without knowledge of its eventual value – was used for writing inlays on little statuettes. Platinum mining would only be introduced to western civilisation in the 17th century – when Spanish conquerors considered it a waste product of gold mining in Columbia.
These conquerors named the mysterious grey-white metal “platina,” meaning little silver.
Today, the automotive industry requires the powerful catalytic properties of platinum for use in exhaust systems as catalytic converters – which pacify harmful gasses (such as carbon monoxide) into less harmful carbon dioxide and water vapour. These various and increasingly important uses for platinum have made the modern demand for platinum mining in South Africa to outstrip the supply.
Platinumcan take up to six months to be refined. On average, seven to 12 tonnes ore yields one ounce of high grade platinum. The beneficiation process begins with the underground extraction of platinum-rich ore, which is then ground into workable chunk sizes. The froth flotation method is used to extract the metal by mixing these particles with reagents, and having air pumped through the material. Platinum-containing particles float to the top.
The skimmed-off material is smelted at temperatures exceeding 1 500° C, which enables the separation of the platinum metal from waste products.
Platinum, along with the rest of the platinum metals, is obtained commercially as a by-product from nickel and copper mining and processing. During electrorefining of copper, noble metals such as silver, gold and the platinum group metals as well as selenium and tellurium settle to the bottom of the cell as “anode mud”, which forms the starting point for the extraction of the platinum group metals.
If pure platinum is found in placer deposits or other ores, it is isolated from them by various methods of subtracting impurities. Because platinum is significantly denser than many of its impurities, the lighter impurities can be removed by simply floating them away in a liquid. Platinum is also paramagnetic, while nickel and iron are both ferromagnetic. These two impurities are thus removed by running an electromagnet over the mixture. Because platinum has a higher melting point than most other substances, many impurities can be burned or melted away without melting the platinum. Finally, platinum is resistant to hydrochloric and sulfuric acids, while other substances are readily attacked by them. Metal impurities can be removed by stirring the mixture in either of the two acids and recovering the remaining platinum.
One suitable method for purification for the raw platinum, which contains platinum, gold, and the other platinum group metals, is to process it with aqua regia, in which palladium, gold and platinum are dissolved, while osmium, iridium, ruthenium and rhodium stay unreacted. The gold is precipitated by the addition of iron(II) chloride and after filtering off the gold, the platinum is precipitated as ammonium chloroplatinate by the addition of ammonium chloride. Ammonium chloroplatinate can be converted to the metal by heating.
Uses and roleplayers
Platinum mining in South Africa is supported by the country possessing over 80% of the world’s platinum group metal reserves. Along with Russia, platinum mining in South Africa produces a total of 90% of the world’s platinum demand – which is about 130 tonnes per year (6% of gold production per annum). The Merensky Reef, stretching from southern Zimbabwe through to the Rustenburg and Pretoria regions, is the centre of platinum mining in South Africa, playing host to companies like Rustenburg Platinum Mines and Bafokeng Rasimone Platinum Mines.
Platinum mining in South Africa regards AMPLATS the industry leader in the mining, marketing, and distribution of the precious mineral. Operating within platinum mining in South Africa, as well as other platinum group metals, AMPLATS produces 40% of the world’s total platinum group metals. Other key platinum mining in South Africa companies include the likes of BHP Billiton and Impala Platinum.
Platinum mining in South Africa is growing as the establishment of projects such as the R7.1 billion Twickenham Expansion Project, 100km south-east of Polokwane, will see the production of 250 000t/m pure platinum.
These types of expansions are set against the already existing large-scale platinum mining in South Africa: such as the well underway Impala Platinum No. 20 Shaft Project, which is geared at producing 185 000 ounces of platinum per year as of 2013 on the Bushveld Complex – which has been mined since 1897.
In South Africa and in the rest of the world, the two mica minerals that have the most important commercial value are muscovite and vermiculite. Muscovite has been making a comparatively small but steady contribution to South Africa’s mineral exports since about 1960.
Vermiculite mining and concentration were started by the late Or Hans Merensky at Phalaborwa during 1946. Vermiculite has enjoyed good overseas sales since then, and during the past four years has become an important earner of foreign currency for South Africa.
Mica is a generic term applied to a group of rock-forming complex aluminosilicate minerals having a sheet or plate like structure with varying chemical composition and physical properties. Crystals of mica are characterised by highly perfect basal cleavage in the direction of large surfaces permitting it to split or delaminate into extremely thin and flat films. High quality natural mica has extremely high heat resistance; is clear and transparent. It is unaffected by the thermal cycling and is not attacked by steam or other aggressive liquid media.
Mica is widely distributed and occurs in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary systems. Large crystals of mica used for various applications are typically mined from the same rocks as granite.
Until the 19th century, large crystals of mica were quite rare and expensive as a result of the limited supply in Europe. However, their price dramatically dropped when large reserves were found and mined in Africa and South America during the early 19th century.
The British Geological Survey reported that as of 2005, Koderma district in Jharkhand state in India had the largest deposits of mica in the world. China was the top producer of mica with almost a third of the global share, closely followed by the US, South Korea and Canada.
The production of mica at 1213 tonnes in 2009-10 in India decreased by about 17% as compared to the preceding year due to narrow and nonproductive pegmatites and closure of some mines due to forest law violation, labour problem and lack of demand.
In 2009 it was estimated that South Africa produced 299 tonnes of mica and while this may not seem to be much, mica production in the country is increasing by the year. In South Africa, the mining of mica can be payable only if felspar and other minerals are recovered at the same time.
Scrap and flake mica is produced all over the world. In 2010, the major producers were Russia (100,000 tonnes), Finland (68,000 t), United States (53,000 t), South Korea (50,000 t), France (20,000 t) and Canada (15,000 t). The total production was 350,000 t, although no reliable data were available for China.
Most sheet mica was produced in India (3,500 t) and Russia (1,500 t). Sheet mica prices vary with grade and can range from less than $1 per kilogram (R11,07) for low-quality mica to more than $2,000 per kilogram (R22131,40) for the highest quality.
The global demand for mica products is enormous. India views herself as a recognized leader in enjoying inestimable and fathomless natural resources of muscovite mica. More than 80% of the world needs is catered by India earning a dominating position.
The most important and famous centre of major mining belt runs in the State of Jharkhand (formerly Bihar State) which produces the world’s finest muscovite mica well known throughout the globe.
The demand for mica derives from its physical properties, which are: high resistance to heat, perfect cleavage and dielectric strength, i.e. the ability to stand high voltages without puncturing. These attributes make mica ideal for use as an insulator in the electronics industry. Therefore one would expect the demand for mica would expand along with the output of electrical industries.
Uses and Roleplayers
Ground mica is used in paints, as joint cement, as a dusting agent, in oil well-drilling muds; and in plastics, roofing, rubber and welding rods. Sheet mica is fabricated into parts for electronic and electronic equipment.
Mica possess some of the most exceptional and outstanding blend of properties rarely found in any other product commanding a unique position :
PHYSICALLY : Mica is flexible, transparent, optically flat, reflective, refractive, colourless in thin sheets, easily splittable into thin films along its cleavage, resilient and incompressible.
CHEMICALLY : Mica is tolerant and completely inert to the action of water, acids (except hydro-hydrofluoric acid and concentrated sulphuric acid), alkalies, bases, mineral oils, conventional solvents and chemical influence. Virtually unaffected by atmospheric action and weathering.
ELECTRICALLY : Mica has distinctive combination of great dielectric strength, uniform dielectric constant and capacitance stability, low power loss (high Q factor), high electrical resistivity, low temperature coefficient and superior insulating properties. It is noted for its resistance to arc and corona discharge with no permanent injury.
THERMALLY : Mica is fire proof, infusible, incombustible and non-flammable. It has low heat conductivity, remarkable thermal endurance and can be exposed to high temperatures without any noticeable effect.
MECHANICALLY : Mica is relatively soft and can be hand cut, machined or die-punched. It is flexible, elastic and tough having high tensile strength. It can easily sustain mechanical stresses and pressures.
In 1756 British engineer John Smeaton made the first modern concrete by adding pebbles as a coarse aggregate and mixing powered brick into the cement. Even today aggregates are considered as engineering and architectural gold.
At Mkhize Mining Investments we strive to provide the best aggregate for construction needs in Africa. Unlike many of our other elements, aggregate is readily available in South Africa extensively. However, our provisions prove more competitive than most suppliers in the country.
We operate strategically to service all sectors of the local construction industry. Our aim is to become the undisputed market leader in delivering top-quality products and service to satisfy the needs of our customers. We only supply products that offer stunning, practical, yet affordable solutions for your project without compromising quality.
Aggregate materials fall broadly into three categories:
Road materials: crushed rock that is screened and blended to suit a variety of applications from driveways to national roads.
Concrete materials: specified aggregates used in a variety of concrete mixes.
Specialised materials: washed or blended aggregates for use in the road, paving, brick and block industries.
According to the Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of South Africa (Aspasa) in 2007, there was a total of above 1 114-million tons of aggregate and sand produced in the quarrying industry, and the projected growth for the industry is estimated at 134-million tons of product, which will be mined by 2016.
According to the USGS, 2006 U.S. crushed stone production was 1.72 billion tonnes valued at $13.8 billion (compared to 1.69 billion tonnes valued at $12.1 billion in 2005). According to the USGS, 2006 U.S. sand and gravel production was 1.32 billion tonnes valued at $8.54 billion (compared to 1.27 billion tonnes valued at $7.46 billion in 2005), of which 264 million tonnes valued at $1.92 billion was used as concrete aggregates.
Currently the world construction aggregate industry demand sits at 40.2 billion metric tonnes a year.
The industry’s growth since 2004 has been substantial, and the demand for mined product has been huge. There is a dire need in South Africa to build more infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, homes, roads, highways, dams and power stations, to raise the standard of living, and this need feeds into the potential for growth in the industry.
Currently, total U.S. aggregate demand by final market sector was 30%–35% for non-residential building (offices, hotels, stores, manufacturing plants, government and institutional buildings, and others), 25% for highways, and 25% for housing.
It is believed that world sales of construction aggregates will rise 5.8% annually to 53.2 billion metric tons in 2017. The Asia/Pacific region will remain the dominant market and grow the fastest. Crushed stone and other aggregates will offer the best prospects.
Uses and Roleplayers
As a basic raw material aggregates can be put to many uses, although certain tasks may require a specific type of aggregate.
The largest proportion of the primary aggregate was used to manufacture concrete (36%), with a further 10% used to manufacture the cement that is also used in the concrete. Used in roads was the second largest category (26%), while 20% of aggregates were used in other construction uses and fills and another 2% were used for railway ballast.
However materials that are suitable for use as aggregates can also be used to manufacture other products thus industrial and other uses amounted to 6% with the remainder split between the manufacture of mortar (4%), glass (1%) and use in agriculture (1%).
With South Africa holding the title for the fifth largest mining industry in the world, roleplayers in this industry are innumerable.
Two of the world’s largest mining companies have their origins in South Africa. BHP Billiton was the result of a merger between South Africa’s Billiton and the Australian BHP Group. Therefore, it can be established that an abundance of roleplayers exist in the industry as a majority of mines in the country while mining for other substances also mine for aggregate.
One of the most diverse ans unusual minerals under the Mkhize Mining Investments products banner is beryl.
Beryl is a most alluring and popular mineral. It occurs in a diversity of colours, and has several important gemstone varieties. The green variety, Emerald, is one of the most precious gems. Only green Beryl with a deep green colour is called Emerald; light green Beryl is simply “Green Beryl” (or Heliodor if it has a yellowish colour.)
Aquamarine, another important gemstone, is the greenish-blue to blue variety of Beryl. Green Beryl from certain localities can be heat treated to produce sky-blue Aquamarine. Other popular gem varieties of Beryl are the pink Morganite, and the yellow Heliodor and Golden Beryl. A deep red variety of Beryl, known as Red Beryl (or Bixbite) is extremely rare, and only comes from two localities in Utah, USA. When in good specimens, Red Beryl commands an outstanding premium and is very difficult to obtain.
Pure Beryl is colorless. However, a wide range of impurities cause the diverse amount of colours and many varieties. The green color in Emerald is usually caused by traces of the element chromium, and the blue color of Aquamarine usually by iron.
Beryl is naturally transparent, however inclusions and impurities may make it opaque. All gemmy transparent varieties are highly valued, but the other forms of Beryl in opaque crystals are much more common. Some of the largest natural crystals known are of Beryl, with enormous crystals having been found in several pegmatite occurrences.
The pegmatite belt in the northern Cape Province has had a longer and more interesting and colourful history due to been the great variety of rare and valuable minerals that have been found and recovered from this vast pegmatite belt.
Substantial quantities of beryl have been produced over a long period, from thousands of small to comparatively large workings by individual diggers, syndicates, and mining companies.
Beryl of various colours is found most commonly in granitic pegmatites, but also occurs in mica schists in the Ural Mountains, and limestone in Colombia. Beryl is often associated with tin and tungsten ore bodies.
Beryl is found in Europe in Norway, Austria, Germany, Sweden (especially morganite), Ireland and Russia, as well as Brazil, Colombia, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa, the United States, and Zambia.
Beryl Top values go to clarity first, with colour a close second. Since beryls are available in large sizes, you will not see an incremental increase for large gems. All beryls hold the same value above about three carats. The biggest demand for the mineral is relegated to the jewellery industry.
Beryl forms some of the most well-known and prized gemstones. The deep green variety Emerald is one of the most valuable gems. Aquamarine, a semi-precious gem, is the most popular light blue gem. Morganite, Golden Beryl, and Heliodor are also used as gems, though Goshenite and Red Beryl are less frequently faceted into gemstone cuts.
Beryl is a very important collector’s mineral, and gemmy crystals can be very valuable. Due do its rarity, Red Beryl is rarely faceted as collectors prize its natural crystal form.
Beryl is also an important industrial mineral, and is mined for the element beryllium (formerly known as glucinium). Beryl is the main ore or beryllium. Beryllium is a very tough metal, and is sometime used in alloys to strengthen other metals.
Limestone products are used in five principal industries in South Africa: Cement manufacturing, metallurgy (steel refining), agriculture (fertilisers, fungicides, animal feed), aggregate and lime manufacture.
Unique characteristics of the South African limestone and lime market include the following:
1) Isolated large high-grade deposits of limestone; 2) cement production being the largest limestone consumer; 3) large changes in lime consumption patterns (shrinking gold, uranium and calcium carbide uses and an increase in the ferro-alloy and water treatment sectors); 4) the dominance of foreign companies in the local cement industry; and 5) the superior grade of local ground calcium carbonate (GCC) products.
The South African limestone industry comprises 24 groups or controlling companies and 41 quarries – 27 limestone quarries, 4 operations mining limestone and dolomite and 4 major lime manufacturers. South Africa’s share of the world lime and cement output is about 0,8% and 0,7% respectively.
The average mine has been operating for 39,2 years, whilst 11 quarries have been operating for more than 50 years and 8 for less than 20 years. Good recovery rates, extensive mineral reserves and LOM plans, remotely located deposits, short-range selective mining, campaign mining, some hand-sorting, minimal overburden, dry processing, average to excellent product specs, low effluent discharge and moderate rehabilitation costs epitomise the mine and plant aspects of local limestone mining.
Sustainable growth in the local limestone industry is dependent on the development of niche markets and growth in both the national economy and end consumer markets. External factors such as toll fees and high transport and energy costs remain a real concern to all producers
Expected growth in the industry has been forecast at 4,0 % (in line with macro-economic growth), based on strong growth in the construction sector, aggregates and specific non-ferrous uses. Further contraction in lime consumption; and more strategic acquisitions (both locally and abroad) are expected in the industry.
Several new growth markets include special cements, fire-retardants, admixtures, sealants, new concrete products, new water and effluent treatment recipes, coal dusting uses, glass manufacture and functional fillers.
Through the investment of global cement companies in South Africa, there has been a strong improvement in quality control and safety implementation.
Recycling, re-use, regenerating, substitutes (particularly fly-ash and other spent materials) and a greater efficiency regarding carbonate material consumption may dampen local demand in pelletising, water treatment, chemical manufacture and some non-ferrous uses. However, the overall industry risk, in terms of production factors, policy, strategy and positioning, remains low.
Construction and Aggregates
Limestone has been used directly in buildings as load bearing walls and also in facades. Crushed limestone, also called aggregate, is used as a filler in concrete, as a base in road construction, and as a filler in asphalt.
Limestone is used in making steel. The limestone is mixed with iron ore and coke, a form of coal, and all are melted in and converted to lime, CaO, combines with the impurities, mostly silicon dioxide, in the iron ore or hot molten metal to form a material called slag which has a general formula of caclium silicate, CaSiO3. The slag which now is in the form of a calcium silicate floats on top of the molten metal because it is lighter. Then the molten iron which sinks to the bottom of the furnace. About 100 pounds of limestone are needed to make a ton of iron.
Lime and Cement
Limestone is converted to lime, CaO, calcium oxide, or also called “quicklime” by heating the limestone rock to about 800 degrees Celsius. Lime may be used on an industrial scale as an inexpensive base to adjust pH in chemical processes, water treatment, and adjusting soil pH.
Calcite and Dolomite, when heated and in some cases slurried or combined with salt, are used in making many common everyday products such as paper, glass, paint and varnish, soap and detergents, textiles, refractories, baking powder, and pharmaceuticals, including milk of magnesia and bicarbonate of soda. Finely ground, they are used to control coal mine dust, to collect sulfur dioxide from power plant exhaust, to sweeten soils, and as ingredients in fertiliser and stock feeds, to name a few.