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2008 Presidential address: How cool are refractory materials?

A._Garbers-CraigBy A.M. Garbers-Craig
Without refractory materials most of the scientific and technological inventions and developments we know today would not have been possible. The existence of virtually everything we see around us, or use in everyday life, is in some way dependent on refractory materials. Refractories are therefore facilitating or enabling materials, and are essential to the successful operation of any industry in which high temperatures are used .
The word ‘refractory’ is derived from the Latin word, ‘refractarius’, which means stubborn . These materials resist high temperatures, have high-quality mechanical and thermomechanical properties, have high corrosion resistance, act as a heat buffer between the walls of the containing vessel and the hot charge, and conserve process heat.
Reliability and long service life are required from materials when put into operation. Refractory cost is therefore expressed in terms of tons of product produced, i.e. the cost of the refractory material is weighed against useful life and replacement cost. A refractory material is a type of engineering ceramic called an ‘industrial ceramic’ . Refractory materials, however, have
coarser grain sizes and higher porosities than engineering ceramics, and consist of aggregate particles, held together by a bonding (matrix) phase, where both the aggregate and the bond can be multiphased .
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President’s message for the New Year...

At the beginning of a brand new year, one automatically reflects on the past year, and contemplates what 2009 will bring. I am sure you will agree that 2008 was a very eventful year for our industry, which started with the South African power crisis in January, and ended with the global financial crisis that resulted in an economic slowdown, currency volatility, a sharp pull-back in commodity prices and rising unemployment. Economists predict that 2009 will be a tough year, that we need to tighten our belts, and that we will have our fair share of challenges. Fortunately the majority of economists remain optimistic about the resilience of our economy, and some even predict that by the end of 2009 the South African economy might be stronger than is considered possible at present.

My wishes for us who work in the mining and metallurgical industry for 2009 is therefore that we will seize the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, that we will persevere, strive towards excellence, capitalize on positive news and celebrate our achievements, notwithstanding the hardships. And on a more personal note: my wishes for you for 2009 are that you and your loved ones will enjoy good health, that you will find inspiration, meaning and happiness in your lives, and that you will savour the good times! May 2009 pleasantly surprise us! A.M. Garbers-Craig President

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Other mining news

Mining Weekly | Africa

24 July 2024

The latest mining world news and project information from Africa. providing updates on the progress of future, new and existing projects. Developments in mining legislation, policies, investments and infrastructure will be highlighted
  • TFR boasts slight improvement but admits much work still to be done
    Although there has been a “slight” improvement year-on-year in terms of State-owned Transnet Freight Rail’s (TFR’s) North Corridor performance, the beleaguered rail operator is “not out of the woods yet”, TFR north corridor acting managing executive Theo Johnson has said. “‘Slight improvement’ is a term that I would accept. We're working on a lot of initiatives [in] the North Corridor, because that's the biggest corridor in TFR, particularly for the export coal line . . . but we are not out of the woods. We have a long way to go,” he said at the 2024 Coal & Energy Transition Day, in Johannesburg, on July 24.
  • African nations turn to gold to protect against currency losses
    African nations are rushing to build their gold reserves to hedge against geopolitical tensions that have battered their currencies and fanned inflation. Nations from South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Nigeria have either taken steps to shore up their holdings or are considering doing so. The move follows that of central banks in places such as China and India that have accumulated gold to diversify reserves and reduce dependency on the US dollar. About 20 central banks are expected to stock up in the coming year, according to a World Gold Council survey.
  • Botswana proposes law for locals to acquire 24% stakes in mines
    Botswana is proposing a law that will ask mining companies, once granted a licence, to sell a 24% stake in mines to locals if the government does not exercise its option to acquire the shareholding, a draft bill seen by Reuters on Tuesday shows. The current Mines and Minerals Act allows the government of Botswana, the world's top diamond producer by value and an emerging copper mining hotspot, to buy a 15% shareholding in any mining project upon being licensed. The existing law gives the government an option to negotiate higher stakes in diamond mines.