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Science and Technology minister launches CSIR titanium pilot plant

Science and Technology Minister, Science and Technology Minister, Derek Hanekom and CSIR CEO ,Dr Sibusiso Sibisi officially unveil the plaque at the Ti Pilot plantMr Derek Hanekom, officially opened the CSIR titanium pilot plant in Pretoria today. The Department of Science and Technology has been a key stakeholder in this initiative and has allocated more than R100 million via the Titantium Centre of Competence (TiCoC), over the next two years.

In his keynote address, the minister applauded the TiCoC, an initiative hosted by the CSIR and initiated by his department. The minister said, “Titanium metal powder is regarded as the product of the future. We are pleased to note the commendable progress and successes achieved from our investments in research and development, human capital development and technology infrastructure since 2006”.

In describing the Ti-Pilot plant, Mr Hanekom said, “It is a breakthrough in the production of titanium metal powder using a novel continuous process, instead of the more conventional batch process. This proprietary technology offers significant cost and efficiency advantages, and is expected to give South Africa a comparative advantage in the production of titanium metal and finished products.”

South Africa’s entire titanium beneficiation strategy depends largely on the success of this pilot plant and its further commercialisation. However, Mr Hanekom stressed that this initiative was a bench-scale pilot plant. He said, “It is still a research facility, the output of which will be an essential milestone in determining whether or not to proceed to a full commercial-scale demonstrator plant.”

Dr Willie du Preez, Director of the CSIR Titanium Centre Of Competence said: “We are confident that today’s much awaited historical launch not only unleashes a new era for SA titanium but also strategically positions South Africa as a key player in the international titanium arena. The titanium pilot plant will undoubtedly stimulate further development of various economic sectors within South Africa with dynamic long term advantages that include a full commercial-scale demonstrator plant that will take us into 2020 and beyond.”







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