Sep 25, 2012
Pilot plants on way for platinum, titanium value-add – Science MinisterBack
Johannesburg|New Delhi|Pretoria|Africa|Aircraft|Altergy Power Systems|Anglo American Platinum|Castings|Clean Energy|Components|Export|HySA Systems|India|Industrial|Platinum|Power|Resources|Storage|Systems|Technology|Training|Vodacom|Africa|Japan|South Africa|Technology Centre|Downstream Component Manufacturing|Energy|Fuel-cell Back-up Power Systems|Manufacturing|Manufacturing Plant|Metal Mill Products|Metal Powder|Metal Production|Products|Service|Steel|Systems|Titanium Metal|Titanium Metal Powder Industry|Arun Kulshreshtha|Infrastructure|Iron Ore|Iron-ore|Naledi Pandor|South Africa|Sub-Saharan Africa|Cellular Telephone|Fuel Cells
Delivering the inaugural address at a beneficiation workshop of the Centre for Science and Technology of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries held in Boksburg, Pandor said a fledgling company had already sold 18 platinum-using fuel cells to South Africa’s mobile phone sector and that determined mineral beneficiation efforts under way were aimed at the country giving birth to new fully fledged industries as progressions of South Africa's leading positions in platinum and titanium.
She spoke to strong applause after NAM Centre for Science and Technology New Delhi Professor Arun Kulshreshtha told the workshop that South Africa had been selected to host NAM Science and Technology’s thirteenth general council meeting next September, after which it would assume the presidency of the institution until 2016.
Pandor said it was now the turn of Africa to make the best of its considerable resources while at the same time steering well clear of the resource curse through the introduction of beneficiation and localisation, two overlapping processes, which the Minister conceded were both “complicated and complex”.
But South Africa had introduced policies for both, aimed at “promoting development at home”.
In platinum, South Africa had established Clean Energy, a South African fuel-cell company that would initially market and eventually assemble and manufacture fuel cells in sub-Saharan Africa in partnership with Anglo American Platinum and Altergy Power Systems.
Although Clean Energy was still in its market development stage, it had already sold 18 fuel-cell back-up power systems to mobile phone service provider Vodacom. Platinum serves as a catalyst in the hydrogen fuel cell process.
South Africa had also made progress with Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Catalysis and HySA Systems, its two four-year-old centres of platinum-linked competence, which had secured partnerships with the private sector abroad.
Those partnerships would enable HySA to penetrate the global fuel market, following an agreement being negotiated with a Norwegian partner for the commercialisation of a hydrogen storage material, plus the co-funding and upscaling of the pilot plant into a fully-fledged manufacturing plant.
In titanium, the Department of Science and Technology was championing the development of an industry across the entire titanium value chain, from the raw mineral to primary metal powder and ultimately to the forming of metal mill products – plates, bars and tubes – and components, such as titanium castings as well as their machining and components manufacturing.
The titanium metal powder industry was estimated to have the potential to generate a turnover of R3.5-billion a year, which further beneficiation could increase to a downstream industry that would have the potential of turning over some R30-billion a year.
A titanium industry would require 450 workers, engineers and technologists in metal production and 2 000 workers, engineers and technicians in downstream component manufacturing.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a novel process in which titanium metal could be produced from titanium mineral ore, of which South Africa was the world’s second-largest supplier, but currently with negligible value added to the mineral before export.
New capabilities could position South Africa as a world leader in the cost competitive production of high-grade titanium metal powder.
“Titanium is a sought-after metal especially in the aerospace industry where aircraft and satellites need to be lighter in weight to consume less fuel,” Pandor said.
The pilot plant to be built at the CSIR in 2012 would accelerate the development of strategic capability.
“These efforts mean that, in the near future, South Africa will have a new industry built around titanium,” Pandor forecast, adding that a third mineral with beneficiation potential was fluorspar, of which South Africa hosted the world’s largest reserves.
South Africa’s rich fluorspar endowment had given rise to the planned 2013 listing on the JSE of a company which mines fluorspar 80 km north of Pretoria and which intends using it for the manufacture of fluorochemicals 52 km away, in Bronkhorstspruit.
Professor Kulshreshtha told the workshop that minerals beneficiation was an area of “immense potential” for developing countries well endowed with abundant mineral resources, which needed to share know-how and skills with one another.
It was unfortunate that a lack of skills, innovative research and technology, infrastructure and a new world trade regime were preventing developing countries from exploiting their mineral endowments to the extent that economically benefited a far greater number of citizens.
For example, mineral-rich Africa was lagging behind mineral-poor countries on a wide range of developmental indicators.
He said that India had woken up to the folly of exporting vast quantities of iron-ore at dirt-cheap prices to Japan and buying back steel at prices infinitely higher.
There was a need for policy makers, scientists, academics and technologists to address ways of filling the skills gap.
The NAM Science and Technology Centre, made up of 46 developing countries, had conducted 59 international workshops and 26 training programmes and published 54 technical books in the last 15 years.
It would be adding to its five fellowships with a new expenses-paid research fellowship scheme for scientists of developing countries.
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
Energy Roundup – May 2016 (PDF Report)
The May 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for April 2016 and includes details of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s proposal to introduce a coal benchmark cost as part of its final decision on Eskom’s multiyear price determination...
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...
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...