The launch of a new R4-billion titanium beneficiation project for manufacturing titanium pigment at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) next month is a significant and commendable milestone in South Africa’s mineral beneficiation and industrialisation paths, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies said on Sunday.
The project would see Nyanza Light Metals, a South African company, extracting titanium from the waste steel slag and beneficiating it to produce titanium dioxide pigment which was a critical ingredient in paint manufacturing, the trade and industry department (DTI) said in a statement.
“As government, we are delighted that our investment, both in terms of human and financial resources, will come to fruition when the titanium beneficiation project is launched in one of SA’s industrial zones. This is a significant milestone in the implementation of the country’s industrial policy action plan and the national beneficiation strategy. The DTI pulled out all stops to make sure that the project was a success because we realised the huge impact that it would have on the country’s economy,” Davies said in the statement.
The R4-billion investment by Nyanza was good news for the country in general and the Richards Bay IDZ in particular. The project would be the largest single investment in the Richards Bay IDZ. About 550 permanent jobs would be created when the plant was operational, while 1200 indirect and 800 direct jobs would be created during the construction phase of the plant, he said.
The construction of the plant would start next year, while production was expected to begin in late 2019. The DTI extended a grant of R17.1-million to the company for feasibility studies from its special economic zones fund. It had also approved an investment allowance of R900-million and training allowance of more than R10-million from its 12i tax allowance programme.
Last year, the DTI conducted a scoping study to assess the economic viability of exploiting the bushveld complex magnetite deposits to produce iron-ore or steel and titanium through linking existing plants and projects. The outcome of the study included the identification of industrial opportunities to produce pig iron, vanadium redox batteries, as well as titanium pigment from the bushveld magnetite deposits. Among the identified opportunities was the Nyanza Light Metals project, developed to produce titanium pigment utilising the Evraz Highveld Steel waste slag which was dumped for over 45 years in the bushveld complex as feed stock.
South Africa had the second largest titanium reserves in the world and produced about 19.5% of global titanium slag. SA exported most of the titanium in the form of titanium dioxide or slag to Australia and Europe where the value addition happened and then re-imported the final finished product.
South Africa consumed 35 000 t/y of titanium pigment, mainly in paint manufacturing. The Nyanza project would produce 50 000 t/y of titanium dioxide pigment which it would sell locally and export to the rest of Africa and the Middle East, the DTI said.