Workshop centres on beneficiation

Herald Reporter

AN international workshop spearheaded by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Centre for High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM), which started this week, will be the catalyst for the creation of a new international knowledge network.

This will include some of the world’s top electron microscopy and materials experts.

The conference started yesterday and ends today.

The focus will be to accelerate the development of advanced materials in South Africa, thereby contributing towards the beneficiation of this country’s mineral resources.

It is estimated South Africa holds more than 75% of the world’s known platinum group metal reserves as well as the second largest reserves of titanium ores.

The highly specialised workshop – which is drawing experts from universities in the US, the UK, Australia and South Africa – will also be attended by representatives of the Department of Science and Technology, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Technology Innovation Agency and the National Research Foundation.

“I think it’s important South Africa should create new high-tech industries which can be internationally competitive and provide employment opportunities for our graduates,” HRTEM director and workshop organiser Professor Jannie Neethling said.

“The high-tech industry base in South Africa is too small for sustained growth.”

The workshop will primarily focus on the use of advanced electron microscopy for titanium and aluminium alloys as well as the platinum group metals. Titanium can be alloyed with other elements to produce strong, lightweight materials for industries including aerospace, automotive, medical prostheses, dental implants and mobile phones.

“By becoming part of a high-level international research network, we hope to advance materials development in South Africa and abroad – with the ultimate aim that this should contribute towards the mineral beneficiation ideals of South Africa and lead to new job opportunities.”

Physics, chemistry and materials sciences MSc and PhD graduates will be able to fill the positions created by these new high-tech industries.

International speakers at the conference include Professor Hamish Fraser, director of the Centre for the Accelerated Maturation of Materials, at Ohio State University.

 

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