Trade cooperation agreements signed by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the investment are to benefit the local infrastructure, ocean economy, green economy, science and technology, agriculture, environment, as well as finance sectors.
“Strengthening partnership with the world’s leading economy and reliable trade partner has afforded South Africa with opportunities to increase its exports, accelerate infrastructure delivery, economic recovery and job creation,” said SANCO National Spokesperson, Jabu Mahlangu in a statement released late on Tuesday.
Shireen Mentor, a 29-year-old resident of Montevideo, near Manenberg, has been named one of the world’s top young scientists.
Mentor, a PhD student from the University of the Western Cape (UWC) has just returned from a prestigious science conference in Germany, and is already preparing for her next visit to the USA.
Mentor’s five-day trip to Germany late last month came after being selected to attend the 68thLindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, which is one of the most prestigious science conferences in the world.
She was one of six South African female scientists nominated by the Academy of Science of South Africa to attend the event, which hosted 600 of the world’s most intelligent individuals, including Nobel Prize-winning scientists, who shared their ideas on physiology and medicine.
“Mentor has just heard she’s been awarded a Fullbright Scholarship from the University of Missouri in the USA, and is currently preparing her visa and other necessary documents for her departure in September. She will be away for nine months,” explains Harriet Box, UWC’s communications officer.
But the young scientist’s journey with UWC and in the field started when she joined the university’s work-study programme catering to students predominantly from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
She worked as a student assistant and anatomy practical demonstrator, and lectured postgraduate students in basic tissue culture techniques at the university’s Medical Biosciences Department.
Mentor was also an assistant lecturer, teaching aspects of neurobiology, reproduction and metabolism to community health students, and is already a published scientist in prominent scientific journals, and the first recipient of the coveted national Wyndham Prize from the Physiology Society of Southern Africa in 2014.
As part of Mentor’s doctoral studies, she plans to redefine the theoretical interpretation of the functional composition of the brain’s protective barrier properties.
“My original research was situated squarely within the context of substance abuse. My neighborhood, like many others in the greater Cape Town, experiences high levels of substance abuse, in particular methamphetamine – and this inspired me to look at the science behind it,” Mentor explains in a statement.
“In my honors year I investigated the effects of methamphetamine on the blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability, since the mechanism may be linked to the integrity of the BBB, which regulates the movement of ions, pathogens, and an array of harmful substances across brain capillaries, protecting the cognitive integrity of the central nervous system.
“UWC has been my stepping stone in many respects. I’m looking forward to learning more about how my research may one day be able to make a meaningful contribution to treating addiction.”
The Lancaster Foundation, a nonprofit company created by Lancaster Group, said on Friday it would provide a R1.6 million grant to Difeme, the investment company established by trade union Fedusa, to help kickstart a quartz mining and beneficiation hub in the Northern Cape.
It said Difeme had partnered with state-owned mineral and mining research centre Mintek to develop the appropriate technologies to process the quartz to the valuable purity standard of greater than 99.99% purity.
“By supporting Difeme’s bankable feasibility study, the Lancaster Foundation is contributing to a venture that could bring significant economic development benefits to South Africa,” it said.
“Difeme envisions using this resource to create additional business initiatives in downstream sectors, such as semiconductors and solar panels.”
Difeme Holdings is a black-owned mining startup company with a focus to mine and beneficiate quartz (SiO2) to a purity standard of higher than 99.99 percent, a rarity in the world.
After an agreement between Mintek and Difeme in 2016, the former was tasked to investigate the quality of the Riemvasmaak quartz deposits in Northern Cape through field evaluation, chemical and mineralogical test work and comminution test analysis and found that the silica content was as high as 99.98% on some occurrences.
Quartz is one of the earth’s most abundant minerals, but very few deposits can be classified as high-purity quartz, whose end market includes fused quartz crucibles, solar, semiconductors, high temperature lamp tubing and telecommunications.
Quartz glass is used in many facets of photovoltaic cell manufacturing, in light sources, reaction chambers, and tools used in the production of solar cells, thin films, and silicon wafers.
“Persistence Market Research argues that a new player in the market can gain market share of up to 10% within two years of its production line up,” Difeme managing director Dennis George said.
“This opportunity really excites us and offers a ray of light for small-scale mining companies.”
Work on the feasibility study is expected to commence during the second half of the year.