With the support of the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (“IDC”), Gilgamesh (“the company”) has initiated a project to establish the manufacturing of performance chemicals based on cobalt, nickel and copper to exploit MetaChemica’s core competencies of technical expertise in the chemistry of metal products, innovative skills to refine the manufacturing methodology to suit the product and market requirements, and the know-how and capability to successfully transform a scientific preparation method into an industrial-scale production process.
Gilgamesh will leverage on MetaChemica’s previous operations and and Dr Sofianos’ experience in sourcing of raw materials, production systems, product development, technology as well as overseas markets that have been developed. In essence, Gilgamesh may be considered as the resurrection of MetaChemica in a new strengthened format that encompasses BEE requirements and management, product slate and a higher capacity.
More specifically, Gilgamesh intends to beneficiate base minerals (Co, Cu and Ni) into high value products in a plant designed for treating 360 tonnes cobalt per annum at an estimated cost of R200-250 million. The IDC have been supporting the venture all along and in 2015 it approved the funding of a bankable feasibility study to determine the economic viability of this plant.
The detailed feasibility study carried out by Deloitte SA (financial Viability), Ardeer Engineering (detailed Engineering) and 4 Degrees (Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA) with the input and cooperation of Gilgamesh has mostly been completed and the results appear to be very satisfactory (LINK to Summary of Feasibility Study).
Cobalt, copper and nickel chemicals (and their oxides) are targeted primarily at the export markets, with Germany, the Netherlands, USA, United Kingdom, Spain, Luxembourg, Turkey and Egypt as key markets.
The company will first focus on cobalt chemicals with the flagship product being cobalt oxide, cobalt carbonate and other cobalt-derivatives. Cobalt chemicals are used as pigments, pigment precursors, in enamels and frits manufacturing for ceramics colouring, and in a whole variety of other applications. Gilgamesh will be the only significant South African company focusing on base- mineral specialty chemicals.
Since significant lithium minerals are found in Southern Africa (Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa) it is intended to also diversify towards producing lithium cobaltite and other rechargeable battery materials, all products closely associated with cobalt oxide and cobalt carbonate, with significant importance in current electric car developments.