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78 www. bus- ex. com June 09 Inmintcondition

Mintek D uring the first week in June, South African mining technology and services company Mintek will be celebrating its 75th anniversary, commemorating a lifetime of significant achievements. A five- day programme of events will culminate in a high- level international two-day conference and a glittering gala dinner attended by the industry's most influential people. Mintek has much to celebrate. Since its inauguration in 1934, it has played a leading role in the development and use of new metallurgical technologies and techniques, and it continues to lead the way today, tackling some of the world's more intractable issues. Originally known as the Government Metallurgical Laboratories, the company was set up by the South African government to improve the recovery of uranium, which was in great demand throughout the Second World War and the Cold War that followed. Within a short space of time, Mintek had become the world leader in the field, but its remit expanded and diversified considerably, and its achievement grew in number and significance. During the 1970s, for example, the company played a major role in developing and commercialising the highly effective carbon- in- pulp process that dramatically improved the rate of gold recovery. Later, it developed new techniques for recovering and smelting platinum concentrate, in response to specifi c metallurgical diffi culties experienced on the South African UG2 platinum reef. The reef itself lies under the highly productive Merensky Reef, and the two combined account for a staggering 80 per cent of the world's annual platinum production. Today, Mintek employs 750 staff, the majority of whom are scientists, engineers and R& D specialists. " We operate in three broad categories," explains Dr Roger Paul, general manager for technology. " Metallurgical services, which account for around 70 per cent of our revenue; the manufacture of new technologies which are sold worldwide; and the licensing of technologies." Samples of ore from around the world are sent to Mintek's facility at Randburg on the outskirts of Johannesburg for analysis. Many of these samples are highly complex, and the company is asked to develop a special- purpose process flow sheet which it then tests and proves in its extensive pilot plant. " And it's here, where we're running the complete process, that we can generate the data that financial institutions require from our clients before raising the financing to exploit the mineral reserve," Paul says. It is an indication of the achievements of the company that at its first inauguration it was totally government-funded. Today, 80 per cent of its finance is generated from revenue, and only 20 per cent is provided by the South June 09 www. bus- ex. com 79 mintcondition Mintek, a South African mineral research and mining technology organisation, may be celebrating its 75th anniversary this June, but Dr Roger Paul explains to Gay Sutton how the company is addressing the problems of the future- dwindling earth resources, global warming and Africa's archenemies, malaria and HIV