Zimbabwean engineer Rujeko Masike developed a portable crushing machine for use in the small and medium mining sector. Masike is chairperson of the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering Department at the Harare Institute of Technology and a lecturer in the same subject. She is the only woman on the Royal Academy of Engineering’s shortlist for the 2014-2015 African Engineering Innovation Award, Africa’s biggest prize in the engineering profession.
Masike’s innovative crushing machine scales down jaw and roller machines typically used in the wider industry, and incorporates local materials to produce an affordable machine for sustainable gold mining. The innovation is a welcome addition to equipment normally available to most small and medium-scale miners.
Small-scale mining in Zimbabwe is economically important in terms of its contribution to national output, employment, and poverty alleviation. It accounts for more than half of Zimbabwe’s gold production.
The sector comprises miners in both the formal and informal sectors, but most of the activity occurs in the informal sector. Informal small-scale and artisanal operators are said to number more than 350,000, most of them unregistered panners and diggers. Gold is the most widely exploited mineral, but other minerals, including chromite, emeralds, industrial minerals, tantalite and tin, are also exploited.
The Zimbabwe Miners Federation, which represents small-scale miners, reports that no more than 40 percent of small-scale miners have operated viably in the last decade, largely due to a lack of equipment. The organization says most miners in the sector use wheelbarrows, shovels and handheld hammers for gold ore extraction activities. Equipment such as air compressors, jack hammers and submersible pumps increase production output, but the cost to acquire them is prohibitive for most small-scale miners.
Masike has a master’s degree in engineering from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
(Courtesy of TNJ Staff :http://www.africastrictlybusiness.com/faba/faba-africa-africans-portable-ore-crushing-machine)