Oct 08, 2010
Engineering|CoAL|Coal-fired Power Station|Eskom|Industrial|Mining|Projects|System|Waste|Water|Energy|Product|Services|Steel|Environmental|Power|Waste|Water|Bearing|Mine Water
© Reuse this
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© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Updated 3 hours ago The Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG) on Friday called on government to delay publishing final regulations and issuing rights for shale gas exploration in the Karoo, until a 24-month strategic environmental assessment (SEA) has been concluded. TKAG CEO Jonathan...
Updated 4 hours ago Strengthening its position in the European extrusion coatings market, international packaging and paper group Mondi has inked a deal with technical laminates and protective packaging company Walki Oy for the acquisition of two extrusion coatings plants in...
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
While economic forecasts for the African continent are most favourable, African airlines may not be able to benefit from the expected growth in the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), International Air Transport Association VP: Africa Raphael Kuuchi has warned....
The Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) will need to change substantially post 2020, says Metair Investments South African operations COO Ken Lello. “We must not make tweaks. We have to change. What we are doing is not sustainable.”
Banking group Absa’s forecast is for the rand to end the year at around R13 against the dollar, weakening further to R13.50 by 2016, says Absa sectoral analyst Jacques du Toit. He warns that possible interest rate hikes in the US may see capital being pulled from...
The Dispute Resolution Centre at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) is now open to handle party-to-party disputes. The BCCEI represents the interests of all level four to nine Construction Industry Development Board companies.
Communications technology firm Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa head Fredrik Jejdling says the company’s commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility has been integrated into all facets of its operations, which has provided it with sustainable revenue...