Oct 08, 2010
CoAL|Coal-fired Power Station|Engineering|Eskom|Industrial|Mining|Power|Projects|Solar|System|Technology|Waste|Water|Energy|Product|Services|Steel|Environmental|Waste|Bearing|Mine Water
Molebatsi: It's that time again on a Friday when AMLive presents another, and I must say the 682nd episode of Update from the Coalface with Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly.
Welcome, Martin, for the 682nd time. A Russian company has swooped on a promising new South African iron-making technology.
Creamer: Yes, we've had a mountain of magnetite, which is iron bearing, in the Limpopo province, at Phalaborwa, and for decades we've been trying to find a way to turn this to positive account. A very small company has come up with a solution, by accident, and they've discovered a new ‘iron'.
They are going to turn this, through a very special technology that they've developed, into briquettes, which can be used for iron making. The Russians have been quick to spot the value of this and Severstal, the Russian steel-making and mining company, sent technical specialists out here to dissect this and to see how valuable it was because it's seen as a Holy Grail of the steel industry, it's searching for this technology and they've discovered that the South Africans have stumbled upon it and it actually works.
So they have immediately bought it, they've invested so far about R100-million into this technology and the South African company, which is an unknown or little-known company, Iron Mineral Beneficiation Services, will do everything within the South African context and the Russians will take it abroad. Severstal will take this technology abroad. But they want it to become operational as fast as possible, so they're going to set up a pilot plant.
Their partners are the Industrial Development Corporation who are coming in with them, and also Palabora Mining itself, which is part of the big Rio Tinto Group, and they will make use of some of this mountain of waste that we've had. So it'll be both an environmental benefit and also the fact that we are able to get a briquetted product that can produce steel. You put it into electric arc furnaces. That price is pretty good at the moment.
Molebatsi: Action has begun, finally, on the development of a new solar park in sunny Upington.
Creamer: Yes, Uptington has got the sunshine. They say most days it can produce 8 kW/m2 and this is attracted the attention of the Clinton Climate Initiative and it's one of the fastest projects I've seen. People are not only talking about it, but they say that the first commercial transactions are likely to take place in the first half of next year and that they possibly will roll out R150-billion worth of solar park here.
A lot of people are beginning to ask whether it shouldn't be a solar corridor, because they want to go beyond the park idea and maybe create a corridor between Upington and De Aar, which would be about 19 000 ha of land. We know that where the Department of Energy is looking to site this solar park is pretty close to where Eskom already wants to build a solar tower, as they call it.
That was a moderate 100 MW and this will be 1 000 MW to start with, and going to 5 000 MW. So we're talking about something as big, as a big coal-fired power station, like Medupi or Kusile. This is big stuff and, of course, everybody is working fast on it because it has this advantage of being climate-friendly and you can get funding, and people are coming through already wanting to offer technology.
So at the moment, it's technology neutral, we don't whether it'll be the solar tower or the other trough forms of concentrated solar power, that's not important. The big thing is to get energy from the sun, which is in such abundance in Upington.
Molebatsi: I understand, also, that they're not actually restricting in terms of just one technology, that they are actually asking across the spectrum, whoever is in solar to come into this park, and it's R150-billion.
Creamer: R150-billion eventually. Obviously that won't roll out at that level immediately, but this is the vision.
Molebatsi: Well, two mining companies have succeeded in turning polluted mine water into drinking water that is being bought by a local municipality.
Creamer: This is a fantastic story. We've got problems with mine water. People are anxious here in Johannesburg about this acid mine drainage and you can see, with technology, you can turn this to big advantage.
Now, two big companies, Anglo Coal and BHP Billiton have done this, and we've seen them do this in the Witbank area, the eMalahleni council, and the council is very happy about this because they've been drawing beyond their quota from the Witbank dam, because, as we know, in the last 50 years, the population of the world may have doubled but water consumption has quadrupled because people are getting wealthier and they use more water.
And so we have this situation where these two mining companies have polluted the water, but they've got together to put R300-million into a reclamation plant and they've turned that water, when they do the tests, it's more pure than tap water. It's even an advantage on what we're used to and they're able to sell that onto the local authority.
They're saying that in time, this is already at virtual break even point it will wash its own face in time, it could become a commercial proposition and Optimum Coal now has also got a similar plant feeding Steve Tshwete municipality in the Mpumalanga area, and they are keen to migrate this ultrafiltration system to other areas, like we've got the problems here of acid mine drainage in Johannesburg.
Molebatsi: What about the costs of this? Are they not prohibitive?
Creamer: Well, you can see that the R300-million investment of Anglo Coal and BHP Billiton is already at break even point and already starting to say that this will wash its own face, so that is a tremendous turnaround, and Optimum Coal, I think theirs cost a little bit more at R600-million and that's 15-million litres of water a day whereas the other one is 20-million litres of water a day but we can see that it's a proposition, strategic but also commercial.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
To subscribe email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
To advertise email email@example.com or click here
Recent Research Reports
Automotive 2016: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Automotive 2016 Report provides an overview of South Africa’s automotive industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into local demand and production, vehicle imports and exports, investment and competitiveness in the sector, as well...
Energy Roundup – April 2016 (PDF Report)
The April 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for March 2016 and includes details of a North Gauteng High Court Judge’s dismissal of a court application to postpone the 9.4% electricity tariff increase, which the National Energy Regulator of South...
Electricity 2016: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2016 report provides an overview of South Africa’s electricity sector, focusing on State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Energy Roundup – March 2016 (PDF Report)
The March 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for February 2016 and includes details of the Department of Energy’s plans to announce the preferred bidders for the first tranche of the coal independent power producer procurement programme; the Council...
Steel 2016: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2016 Report examines South Africa’s steel industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the global steel market and and particularly into South South Africa’s steel sector, including production and consumption, main...
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
This Week's Magazine
The two spent-fuel pools at Eskom’s 1 800 MW Koeberg nuclear power station, in the Western Cape, will be full by 2018, increasing the urgency on the State-owned utility to begin pursuing alternative storage options. Koeberg has, over the past 32 years, accumulated a...
South Africa lacks the skills necessary to implement the government’s plan to build 9.6 GWe of new nuclear energy capacity, warns nuclear-qualified Quality Strategies International CEO David Crawford. “Apart from the concern about the affordability of the programme,...
Cybersecurity multinational Check Point has released its latest 700-series cybersecurity systems for small businesses, which draw on its international threat intelligence to provide up-to-date cybersecurity, says Check Point South Africa country manager Doros...
Daimler Trucks and Buses Southern Africa (DTBSA) saw a marked slip in new-vehicle sales in 2015 compared with 2014, with sales dropping from 5 897 units to 5 300 units. The decline came as the South African new truck and bus market declined from 31 558 units in 2014...
Group of 20 (G-20) economies threatened to penalise havens that don’t share information on their banking clients after the leak of the Panama Papers provoked a global uproar over tax evasion. The G-20 will consider “defensive measures” against financial centers and...