The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and State-owned mineral research organisation Mintek have met in recent weeks to discuss synergy and collaboration among the entities.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe in the department’s Budget Vote speech on July announced that Mintek would collaborate with chemicals producer Pelchem, a Necsa subsidiary.
The collaboration is of critical importance as these entities now report to the same Ministry.
Mantashe said an investment of R120-million would go towards Mintek’s development of high-value rapid diagnostic kits and manufacturing infrastructure to supply rapid diagnostic products on a commercial scale.
These diagnostic test kits include tests for HIV/Aids, malaria, tuberculosis and the Rift Valley Fever. The kits use gold nanoparticles as an active ingredient. The kits are currently supplied to public health facilities in five provinces and have higher shelf life accuracy than other commercially available products.
Pelchem MD Ivan Radebe noted in a statement on Wednesday that the collaboration with Mintek augured well for Pelchem and the country, as the local production of antiretrovirals, for example, is a key pillar of their expansion and growth strategy.
Additionally, with Pelchem being a leader in fluorochemical production, it will benefit from the expertise of Mintek’s minerals processing technology to improve yields of its production facilities.
The engagements between Necsa and Mintek unearthed possible areas of collaboration on research and development, including rare-earth-element manufacturing and cancer treatment diagnostic technology and treatment.
Mintek CEO Dr Molefi Motuku said Mintek looked forward to attaining greater heights in commercialising its technologies with the help of Necsa as a strategic partner.