We are pleased to announce the first investments stemming from the Sibanye-Stillwater iXS programme, facilitated by Savant.
Congratulations to Trailblazer Technologies (TBT) and Free Radical Process Design (FRPD), who have been selected for initial investments!
TBT and FRPD are companies built on ground-breaking technologies in the fields of water treatment and mineral extraction respectively, and are expected to have a notable impact on Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations in future.
Both investments have been made to facilitate pilot projects to prove their technologies, paving the way for wider implementation within Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations in South Africa and possibly globally.
What is the Sibanye-Stillwater iXS Programme? | iXS – Incubate, Accelerate and Scale.
Facilitated by Savant, the Sibanye-Stillwater iXS programme was launched in October 2021 as an innovation investment initiative aimed at identifying, incubating, developing and scaling innovators and innovations for a modern mining and mineral ecosystem.
The iXS programme has three parts:
- iXS incubate: focused on developing and supporting innovators and entrepreneurs.
- iXS develop fund: a capital investment programme to support the development and implementation of innovation.
- iXS scale fund: a later stage capital investment programme to help scale innovation.
Sibanye-Stillwater elected to partner with Savant based on its exemplary track record in identifying, supporting, and commercialising hardware technology start-ups on the African continent.
“Our focus is largely on our core business of mining, and we identified the need to partner with a company that had the right capability and capacity to complement our expertise and apply the requisite focus to the programme and process. Savant stood out as the right partner based on their prominence and track record in this space.” – Alex Fenn, Head of Innovation.
The future of technology-driven mining is African
The first two start-ups selected for investment from the programme were TBT and FRPD and both have kicked off their respective projects.
“Savant is very excited about the potential of both TBT and FRPD to have a significant impact on Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations. Through their success they are paving the way for many other innovative technology businesses to benefit from the iXS programme over the coming years.”
Savant sees TBT solving a number of significant challenges relating to waste water treatment at mines and other effluent streams which could pose environmental risks and compromise successful and responsible mine closure.
Blazing a trail for water recovery
TBT focuses on industrial and mining wastewater treatment. The company has developed a cost-effective, patented process for transforming industrial waste water into usable water, while also producing commercially saleable products for the fertilizer industry.
TBT’s breakthrough solution for the mining industry consists of two complementary processes for water recovery:
The KNeW process
The KNeW process eliminates waste and converts high Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) waste streams into clean, potable water and commercially saleable plant nutrition products. This results in excellent quality water at an affordable cost for inland agriculture.
This process leaves behind no liquid waste, such as concentrated waste brines, which would still require disposal or storage, leaving little or no by-product.
ZIX-Zak ion exchange process
The complementary ZIX-Zak ion exchange process removes all total dissolved solids at no extra cost, overcoming inefficiencies in wastewater processing, reducing overall costs, and improving commercial viability.
The beginning of a successful relationship
TBT has officially kicked off their project, working with the Environmental Management team within Sibanye-Stillwater to test the effectiveness of TBT’s KNeW and Zix-Zak technologies on a number of waste water streams. If successful, Sibanye-Stillwater would be in a position to consider full scale plants for resolving specifically identified applications across their global operations.
“We are grateful to Savant for introducing us to Sibanye-Stillwater. Not only will this new partnership help us to expand the application of our technology, but will also allow us to refine the development of new technologies” – John Bewsey, Owner Trailblazer Technologies
Making metal from waste
FRP has developed a continuous electrowinning device to recover metals from leach solutions, as well as minerals from tailings water and mine waste water. The technology is also modular making it ideal for remote and temporary recovery applications.
Rotowinner™ produces hands-free metals without the need for purely cathode stripping, by combining electrowinning and cathode stripping into one continuous process.
The working principle of the technology entails plating metals onto a rotating drum cathode and continuously scraping the metal off, removing the need for overhead cranes, manual labour and a cathode stripping plant.
This technology increases the production rate of electrochemically extracted metals, decreases electricity costs and improves plant safety, with efficiencies comparable to existing technologies.
By using a mobile Rotowinner electrowinning plant, short life-of-mine reserves can be economically beneficiated at (significantly) lower cost until depletion. The electrowinning plant can then be moved to the next site for use on a new resource.
Refining the process for Sibanye-Stillwater
FRPD is already on site and setting up a small-scale pilot plant in Sibanye-Stillwater’s Precious Metals Refinery. The project is expected to take 6 months to demonstrate quantifiable results working on a specific application of extracting precious metals.
“We are happy to announce that we have partnered with Savant and Sibanye-Stillwater to provide the platinum industry with a custom solution using our ground-breaking technology in platinum group metal recovery. With the Sibanye-Stillwater investment, FRPD is able to construct a lab to further our product development efforts and partner closer with the market we aim to provide technology to.” – Dr. Ryno Pretorius Managing Director and Lead Engineer of FRDP
Sibanye-Stillwater sees significant potential in the FRPD process where a minor improvement in recoveries could have a significant impact on revenue. If the process is shown to be significantly impactful in the demonstrated application, Sibanye-Stillwater will be in a position to roll this out across its global PGM operations.