Sep 25, 2012
Pilot plants on way for platinum, titanium value-add – Science MinisterBack
Johannesburg|New Delhi|Pretoria|Africa|Altergy Power Systems|Anglo American Platinum|Clean Energy|Components|HySA Systems|Industrial|Platinum|Resources|Systems|Vodacom|Africa|India|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|Naledi Pandor|Power|South Africa|Sub-Saharan Africa|Cellular Telephone|Fuel Cells
© Reuse this
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© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Mining News
The legal frameworks for the South African mining industry are replete with problems, mining law expert Hulme Scholes outlined on Tuesday. Speaking at a client and media presentation organised by reputation management company Magna Carta, the main partner of Malan...
Despite a welcome but somewhat unforeseen production recovery by DRDGold in the fourth quarter of its 2014 financial year, the tailings retreatment specialist was unable to fully recover from the effect of the April shutdown of its Ergo processing plant, which...
South Africa-focused coal miner Universal Coal on Tuesday announced a A$24.5-million investment from Frankfurt-listed IchorCoal. Under the terms of the proposed transaction, IchorCoal - headed by former ArcelorMittal South Africa CEO Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita -...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced its fourth consecutive year of profits. The group's results for the financial year 2013/2014 were recently announced at its head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria. Revenues grew by 17%, net...
There is little opportunity for JSE-listed infrastructure company Group Five to grow shareholder value in the domestic market, says CEO Mike Upton. He says value can still be found in the private sector, in the renewable and industrial power sector, as well as in...
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has announced the event dates of the 2015 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS). The event will take place from October 14 to October 25, 2015, at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec.
UK engineering support services provider Babcock is set to deliver the largest order of global truck manufacturer DAF’s truck tractors in Southern Africa to bulk carrier road-based logistics company Ngululu Bulk Carriers (NBC), with 133 trucks to be delivered in...
Digital radio communications in the African local government space can open up the world, but have many challenges to overcome, notes integration and migration of legacy radio communications infrastructure with digital mobile radio company Emcom Wireless head of...