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“I wish one day Ghana will process its own mineral resources,” says Etornam Bani Fiadou, PhD student and assistant lecturer at the University of Mines and Technology (UMAT) in Ghana.
Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in Africa and a major producer of manganese and the main aluminium ore, bauxite. Yet, despite mining accounting for more than a third of the country’s export earnings, none of these minerals are currently processed domestically, meaning the country is losing out on the huge profits to be gained by adding value to raw materials. A rich seam of other minerals, including iron ore, are as yet untapped.
In this film, we hear how recycled plastic could make Ghana’s mineral sector vastly more profitable, while clearing the mountains of waste plastic littering the country. UMAT researchers have been investigating using plastic to refine iron ore and to upgrade bauxite to refine iron and aluminium ores.
Not only have the researchers found a use for environmentally harmful plastic, but the method of processing metal also produces far less carbon dioxide than conventional techniques. The research has proved so successful that the university is now looking to talk to the government and businesses about scaling up their work ahead of possible commercial use.
This is part of the Africa’s PhD Renaissance series funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.