How Retooling Technologies Is Changing South African Platinum Mining

How Retooling Technologies Is Changing South African Platinum Mining

Photo by Pedro Henrique Santos on Unsplash

Technologies currently used to carve subways and clear landmines are being reconstructed for use in South Africa. The move could help the country’s platinum mines become more profitable and provide a lifeline for some loss-making shafts.

The sector has been battling low prices as well as social unrest for some time, with only a handful of South Africa’s platinum shafts making money; the majority run a deficit.

From Investing News. Story by Nicole Rashotte.

“Under current price and cost forecasts, conventional [platinum] mining ceases to be economically viable in 2024,” stated South Africa’s Chamber of Mines.

The updated technologies include a 60-centimeter-high bulldozer built by Croatian landmine clearance company Dok-ing. The South African platinum reef is usually too steep and narrow for machines to access, so Dok-ing began by building compact dozers that clear landmines and sweep away ore.

The dozers’ tank-like treads help to resolve a key mechanization challenge, which is the inability of machines with traditional tires to mine steep gradients. Additionally, Dok-ing’s dozer design enables the machines to work on reefs at gradients of up to 22 degrees and beyond.

“Most machines … cannot work above 14 degrees because their wheels simply cannot generate power at such steep gradients,” said Declan Vogt, a lecturer in mining automation at Britain’s University of Exeter.

Read more at Investing News.