Russian firms to invest in SA rare metals

[] — Two Russian firms have agreed to participate in South Africa’s R15bn rare metals processing complex, Business Day Newspaper reported on Friday.

Russia’s Magnezit Group and Magnesium Metals have agreed to participate in the project and could be an equity partner once it reaches the bankable feasibility phase.

The rare metals plant, which would produce high-value industrial metals, including titanium, zirconium, hafnium and silicon, is expected to establish 7 000 jobs.

Philisiwe Buthelezi, the chief executive officer of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF), told the newspaper that NEF has reached an agreement with the two Russian firms to deploy their technology at the project.

She added that Exxaro Resources has been approached as a source of material for the project.

Exxaro said it was willing to supply the project with feedstock.

“We are now talking to the Chinese about making up the shortfall in funding the project,” Buthelezi said.

Rare earths, some of the world’s most obscure elements, are used in familiar devices including cell phones, flat-screen TVs and microwave ovens.