The Lancaster Foundation, a nonprofit company created by Lancaster Group, said on Friday it would provide a R1.6 million grant to Difeme, the investment company established by trade union Fedusa, to help kickstart a quartz mining and beneficiation hub in the Northern Cape.
It said Difeme had partnered with state-owned mineral and mining research centre Mintek to develop the appropriate technologies to process the quartz to the valuable purity standard of greater than 99.99% purity.
“By supporting Difeme’s bankable feasibility study, the Lancaster Foundation is contributing to a venture that could bring significant economic development benefits to South Africa,” it said.
“Difeme envisions using this resource to create additional business initiatives in downstream sectors, such as semiconductors and solar panels.”
Difeme Holdings is a black-owned mining startup company with a focus to mine and beneficiate quartz (SiO2) to a purity standard of higher than 99.99 percent, a rarity in the world.
After an agreement between Mintek and Difeme in 2016, the former was tasked to investigate the quality of the Riemvasmaak quartz deposits in Northern Cape through field evaluation, chemical and mineralogical test work and comminution test analysis and found that the silica content was as high as 99.98% on some occurrences.
Quartz is one of the earth’s most abundant minerals, but very few deposits can be classified as high-purity quartz, whose end market includes fused quartz crucibles, solar, semiconductors, high temperature lamp tubing and telecommunications.
Quartz glass is used in many facets of photovoltaic cell manufacturing, in light sources, reaction chambers, and tools used in the production of solar cells, thin films, and silicon wafers.
“Persistence Market Research argues that a new player in the market can gain market share of up to 10% within two years of its production line up,” Difeme managing director Dennis George said.
“This opportunity really excites us and offers a ray of light for small-scale mining companies.”
Work on the feasibility study is expected to commence during the second half of the year.
– African News Agency (ANA)