Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Golden Day’s Journey Into Zimbabwe with Bundeep Singh Rangar, CEO of NanoStruck Technologies Inc.

Mr. Rangar spent the day of June 13 travelling in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, attending meetings and also had the opportunity to visit Mazowe Gold Mine in the picturesque countryside of Zimbabwe. I had the opportunity to document the day’s events, an exploration into this new Canadian technology and the exciting, productive prospects of gold mining in Zimbabwe. John Mapondera, Executive Chairman of Locan Holdings Pvt Ltd assisted hugely in providing the connections for Mr. Rangar in the Zimbabwean mining industry, and facilitated the day in Zimbabwe.

"I believe it is one of the best technologies that's out there or precious metal retrieval from mine ore and mine tailings" Mr. Rangar

NanoStruck’s cutting edge technology has achieved great results in water filtration and cleansing and they are now venturing into the world of mining, specifically gold recovery in tailing dumps. Their technology harnesses the power of nature, using a programmable powder made from crustacean shells to filter and absorb, enabling unwanted or wanted products like gold to be extracted.

The first meeting was with Desmond Matete, the Executive Director and acting CEO of the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe. The bank has international and local investors and its role is to support the energy, transport, housing, water, agriculture and mining sectors with financial support through capital and lines of credit. It is a diversified bank with interest in new technology and innovation. This meeting was an opportunity for Mr. Rangar and Mr. Matete to share their ideas and knowledge in their respective fields; Mr. Rangar explained to Mr. Matete the nanotechnology and its ability to extract high levels of gold from tailings, using the Nirvana sample as an example.

"We share the revenue by supplying the technology...We give the know-how, we give the chemicals". Mr. Rangar 

In a project sample named Nirvana, NanoStruck achieved an 88% recovery of gold from tailings, with 96% recovery after roasting as opposed to the much lower 10% of other companies’ attempts.

"People from the environmental management agency would be very happy with that". Mr. Matete

Mr. Rangar explained that in the near future his company would like to have part ownership of a dump, using pre-existing leaching plants to then apply their technology. The physical processes of grinding, milling and separation are performed by lots of companies, he explained, but NanoStruck also has a unique patented technology. It does not use cyanide, chemicals are recycled and the powder is organic, readily available and inexpensive. The water is also purified. Mr. Matete was pleased about the environmentally friendly nature of the process and agreed that 10 million tonnes of tailings across Zimbabwe would make a very strong business case for investment, with as much as 9.1g of gold/ton to be recovered.

Further beneficial elements of NanoStruck’s presence in Zimbabwe, would be the possible creation of a research centre, creating a facility for companies and providing high end jobs for engineers and a means of testing samples, not only for gold but other metals too.

"...Ensuring the mining industry operates in an environment that would lead to growth and development of the sector itself, as well as contributing to the socio-economic development of the country". Mr. Matyanga

                   Meeting at the Chamber of Mines      Mr. Rangar and Mr. Mapondera

The second meeting of the day took place at the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe. Mr. Matyanga the Mineral Economist/ Technical Advisor there explained about the organization and its role in society. The Chamber of Mines represents the interest of the mining industry in Zimbabwe. It works with the government and the stake holders, and acts like a union. It is funded by membership subscriptions and has diverse investment from local and foreign countries. Mr. Rangar then gave a breakdown of NanoStruck’s technology in mining to Mr. Matyanga, the importance of this technology in safe and effective gold extractions from tailings, and the great use it could be in the mining industry of Zimbabwe in general. Mr. Matyanga pointed out that bio leaching had been tried out in Zimbabwe with some success, as high as approximately 75% recovery of gold. Mr. Rangar was impressed with this figure but emphasized through his Nirvana sample analysis that the nanotechnology could give better results, at 88% recovery before roasting, making NanoStruck the most commercially viable investment. Another figure in favor of this new technology is that initially 71% of gold can be extracted versus 2.1% of iron, which normally is the other way around.

"We want to create a centre of excellence where we can bring our licensed technology. Collaborate, develop this something locally". Mr. Rangar

Mr. Matyanga expressed his concerns of the environmental impact of the process of this gold extraction, but Mr. Rangar emphasized that his company started out as having a clean mandate and that all their processes do not harm the environment as organic materials are used, recycling is carried out and water purification takes place. Cyanide is not used by NanoStruck.

Mr. Matyanga was impressed with this and was happy to share all this new information and statistics to the Chamber’s members, for further analysis. The members can then contact Mr. Rangar personally and new relationships could be forged. 

In the afternoon, we were driven to the Mazowe Gold Mine, formally known as Jumbo Mine-established in 1890 and also formally a Lonrho mine. This mine is located within the beautiful scenery of the Mazowe area, about 40km NNW of Harare. Allen Mushayavanhu, Senior Geologist of the mine was happy to hear about the technology used by NanoStruck in gold retrieval from tailings and supplied some statistics of the mine, together with the information supplied by the Metallurgist, Charity Nyaruwata. The mine gold, Mr. Mushayavanhu said, was not refractory and was easy to liberate, but they were not processing the tailings as they did not have the appropriate installations. Mr. Chifamba who was in South Africa and in charge of the mine was working on bringing in new plants, using floatation. This Mazowe Mine was very old and here are the interesting facts and figures supplied:

  •      Approximately 4 million tons of tailings
  •      An average of 0.8g/ton of gold as well as silver
  •      The current head ore was approximately 4g/ton of gold
  •      Recovery approximately 87-90%
  •      Residual gold in tailings was 0.4-0.5g/ton
  •      Historic tailings richer, so average concentrate of gold was 0.8g/t
  •      Nearby mines also had historic tailings

Mrs. Nyaruwata was interested in Mr. Rangar’s presentation and technology but she encouraged that he and partners should contact Mr. Chifamba, for a better understanding of the Mazowe Mine and a means of relaying of information between the two groups. She explained that the mine’s processes were old and simple and the plant was unfortunately down at the moment. Her interest in NanoStruck was apparent however. She gladly took the group on a tour of the tailings dump, allowing Mr. Rangar and associates to witness a Zimbabwe gold mine and its workings, particularly the 1953 tailings dump using cyanide. The cyanide goes back to the factory and according to her, would not impact the environment. A hands-on experience of this gold mine I believe was very valuable to Mr. Rangar’s understanding of the gold mining industry in the country; a taste of what is possible in such a mineral rich, African country, and the need for new technology.

                 Mazowe Mine Building                  Rock Formation in Mazowe Area

Later that day, we returned to Harare and to the prestigious Royal Harare Golf Club, where a meeting had been set up with Toindepi Muganyi, Executive Director of the Freda Rebecca Gold Mine. This was an opportunity to share information on gold tailings stats and an introduction for Mr. Muganyi into NanoStruck’s technology and findings in lab tests on Nirvana gold samples.

Mr. Muganyi explained that his gold mine used simple processes but very effectively produced good results such as an average of 0.6g/t of tailings, having 20 million tons of historic tailings. His mines produced two tons to three tons of gold per year, supplying 15%-20% of Zimbabwe’s gold and contributing 1% of Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product (GDP). His confidence in the workings of the Freda Rebecca Mine made him come across as a bit wary of NanoStruck’s technology, as he thought the costing would be too high. He was happy to provide connections to Mr. Rangar and encouraged that to go forward more sampling should be done and the right protocol should be followed, working with the right people. Mr. Mapondera and Mr. Rangar understood Mr. Muganyi’s valuable words and ideas and his position in the mining industry in Zimbabwe. It was a valuable meeting for both parties.

               Mazowe Tailings Dump       Mr. Rangar, Mr. Mapondera and Mrs. Nyaruwata         

The day concluded with a dinner meeting with a Zimbabwean stock broker, Ritesh Anand whose company is called Invictus. He works with Zimbabwean equities and asset management, and was a valuable source of local knowledge and a good connection for NanoStruck and its progression in Zimbabwe. Mr. Anand is passionate about his country and wants to empower people, which is something Mr. Rangar and NanoStruck also wants to do.

This golden day exploring Harare and Mazowe was a day of sharing information and a great way to create a groundwork for further developments in Zimbabwe and beyond. I learnt a huge amount about my country’s gold mining industry and the potential of NanoStruck technology to be used in collaboration with the existing framework, providing the best environmentally friendly processes for gold extraction in the future. New technologies open up a whole new world of possibilities and encourages countries to broaden their horizons in an exciting golden age.

By Lucy Tingay

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