In the past decade, relentlessly, prominent individuals, various agencies and companies in the mining industry have been urging the government to promote smaller mining ventures by reducing bureaucratic hurdles they experience to implement projects and facilitate access to funding.
The latest individual to add impetus to the drive is Appropriate Process Technologies (APT) CEO, Kevin Peacocke, a specialist in manufacturing, engineering and the supply of mining equipment, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.
“Although numerous opportunities for them in the mining sector exist, majority of small-scale miners are unable to leverage the opportunities because they operate outside the legal framework. While aspiring and existing miners are aware of the legal requirements, they are put off by the convoluted process involved in securing permission,” Peacocke notes.
Another obstacle that small-scale miners face -certainly the biggest of them all – is access to finance. Pontsho Ledwaba of the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI), University of the Witwatersrand, observes this in a report. “Entry to the sector has become difficult, with only a few being able to afford the financial obligations. As a result, the profile of small-scale miners is changing.”
Ledwaba observes that the formal artisanal and small scale mining sector is dominated by emerging entrepreneurs with the necessary financial resources rather than disadvantaged and poor communities. Mainly, he says, this is due to the current regulatory framework which favours those with the financial means and not those from poor backgrounds.
For the country to realise the potential of its small-scale mining sector, as large-scale mining operations are facing challenges, Peacocke proposes that regulatory hurdles have to be removed. “De-regulation will make project execution easier and therefore less costly, while opening up more to international investment and participation.A big advantage for small-scale miners in South Africa is first world infrastructure and capability, so opening up the resources will result in rapid and profitable expansion right across the board of supply,” he says.
Well-equipped to serve budding miners
Peacocke believes APT is well-equipped to give budding entreprenuers in the small-scale mining sector a head-start. “We are specialists in the engineering and supply of modular mineral processing plants, that begin at a very small mining scale, and increase in size and capacity to suit mid-tier and larger mining developments. We are are at the forefront of technology with innovative processes and plants like TriTank cyanidation systems and TriFloat flotation systems.”
The company’s tanks have a wide range of applications for all minerals including gold and base metals and can be setup for Carbon-In-Pulp (CIP), Carbon-In-Leach (CIL), or Carousel operation, according to Peacocke.
“The mixing profile is best in tests and practice, in addition, the design has completely eliminated the need for baffles which present a large amount of hassles in circular tank operation,” he adds.
In conclusion, Peacocke says, the biggest advantage that APT offers is processing plant design and testing services at one point.