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Research Collaboration Key To Greener Mining, Higher Profits4 min read

Research Collaboration Key To Greener Mining, Higher Profits<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">4</span> min read</span>


Mining companies have been urged to seek research-driven partnerships and collaborations with academia to bridge the industry’s knowledge gap.

These collaborations, according to Senior Manager for Processing at AngloGold Ashanti Ghana Limited, Obuasi, Kweku Buahin, will aid efforts to promote sustainable mining practices through the application of environmentally-friendly technology; enabling companies to maximise mineral recovery and enhance their return on investment.

Mr. Buahin made this call during a panel discussion at the West Africa Mining and Power Exhibition and Conference (WAMPEX/WAMPOC) held in Accra. He noted that although the mining sector is unique and requires a continuous flow of knowledge, graduates from universities often lack the requisite knowledge and skillset needed to work effectively in the job market.

“We need to keep the knowledge pipeline flowing. The basic level of knowledge in mining that graduates acquire from university is not enough for somebody to hand over millions of dollars for them to manage and handle this refractory processing. We at AngloGold Ashanti are working with our friends from academia and some research centres to see how we can find a solution to the knowledge gap problem,” he noted.

Mr. Buahin spoke on the topic ‘Innovative mining recovery process; grade control, dilution and processing’.

The WAMPEX/WAMPOC was on the theme ‘The mining and power hub: driving sustainable investment opportunities in West Africa’, underscoring the critical role that mining and power sectors play in fostering sustainable economic development and investment in our region.

Its objective is to highlight and explore sustainable investment opportunities within the mining and power sectors of West Africa while providing a platform for knowledge-exchange and collaboration among industry stakeholders, fostering innovation and best practices.

It is also to strengthen regional and international partnerships that will drive growth and development in the mining and power industries and showcase the latest technological advancements and innovations transforming the mining and power sectors.

Mr. Buahin, in an interview with B&FT, further revealed that AngloGold Ashanti is the only mining company in the country with a bio processing plant, and expressed willingness to share its knowledge with industry and academia.

“Our company in Obuasi sits in a very unique space, in that we are the only bio processing company in the country. So, we sit with knowledge that we can share with the industry and academia and work with them to ensure the knowledge pipeline from practical to what is taught in the classroom is kept flowing,” he elaborated.

He also appealed for government to boost the infrastructure and resource capacity of mining schools for effective human resource capacity building. This, he said, would enable students to innovate and use the right tools and technology to unlock the full potential of the country’s mining industry.

With respect to its environmental sustainability policy, he noted that the company  has always acted in an economically, ecologically and socially responsible manner.

“We have incorporated the ESG principles into our operations because we are proponents of hazard-free living. Regarding this, we have recently replaced our underground fleet and are in the process of commissioning a rail system instead of trucks to move our material from underground to the surface. With the rail system, there is less carbon emission.

“We just came back from care and maintenances and are still have phase 3 of our redevelopment project ongoing, which when done – hopefully by end of this year – will resolve one of our major challenges, movement of material from underground to the surface; and with that result, our production is expected to increase,” he further said.

Mr. Buahin encouraged mining companies to adopt emission-free recovery processing to enable them achieve the global net zero target by 2050.

Beyond the country, he said the company has trained 100 Senegalese in the area of bio technology.

“Recently, when Senegal had to put up their plant, our company offered training for the entire team of Senegalese – about 100 of them coming in batches for training at Obuasi, he elaborated.

Meanwhile, Dean of Post-Graduate Studies at the University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Professor Grace Ofori Sarpong, while giving a presentation on the topic ‘Innovations in Recovery from Refractory Gold Ores’ lauded AngloGold Ashanti for adopting and sticking to bio-oxidation mining as it is environmentally friendlier.

“AngloGold Ashanti has been using this method for almost 4 decades. This type of mining is not about high temperature or high pressure, but rather living microorganisms. The consortium is predominantly iron and sulfide-oxidizing bacteria and therefore are able to break down sulfide. Bios oxidation is accepted because it is a natural thing and is better than roasting and many other mining processes because of  its environmental friendliness,” she added.