DRDGOLD Ltd’s flagship metallurgical plant, Ergo Mining Proprietary Limited, has entered into a second five-year (2022-2026) research and support agreement with the University of the Witswatersrand (Wits University) through the Gold Research Group in the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering. The agreement will see continuation of research with the objective of enhancing capacity and capability within the field.
The research, DRDGOLD says, will seek to allow for more effective optimisation and improve the probability of increased gold recovery, as well as environmentally-friendly treatment technologies over a period of five years by students under the supervision of their academic staff members. The technological focus areas will comprise of four inter-related and interdependent categories, namely:
- Alternative leaching technologies;
- Fluidisation and recovery technology;
- Environmental treatment technologies; and
- Chemical measurements and modelling technologies.
Commenting on the agreement, manager of the program, Professor Herman Potgieter, said: “Through the four categories, Wits University will assist Ergo in developing new leaching processes and using alternative leachants and ligands for a wide range of sulphides, develop fluidisation and packed bed technology for a new gas phase technology for a wide range of sulphides. They will also obtain a detailed and thorough understanding of the environmental impact of the Ergo plant operations in terms of energy usage, effluents, and emissions during the liberation of the gold contained in the sulphides.
“The research will also assist Ergo in developing new measurement techniques to reliably quantify small amounts of gold in the leached solutions and predict the optimum reagents to use based on density functional theory calculations and modelling techniques applied to various parts of the process.”
Ergo’s Managing Director, Henry Gouws, said: “At DRDGOLD, we remain committed to engaging with educational institutions within the areas in which we operate to set up programs aimed at upskilling our youth, to empower them to make an active contribution to our economy. We look forward to working with the Gold Research Group within the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering at Wits University as we seek to optimise and improve gold recovery as well as identify and evaluate environmentally friendly treatment technologies.”
Ergo has a vast footprint adjacent to Johannesburg on the central and eastern Witwatersrand of South Africa. Its assets cover an area around 62 km from east to west and 25 km from north to south. This large, single footprint was created as part of a rationalisation process and in order to simplify the structure of DRDGOLD, and focus on the reclamation and treatment of surface tailings deposits.