Laugfs, SLINTEC tie up for natural mineral sand processing
Laugfs Holdings Limited entered into a strategic agreement with Sri Lanka Institute of Nanotechnology (SLINTEC) to process natural mineral sands for value addition.
The landmark agreement was signed yesterday creating a PPP venture to set up country’s first ever plant to produce titanium dioxide from mineral sand.
Laugfs Holdings Chairman W.K.H. Wegapitiya, Senior Minister Tissa Vitarana and SLINTEC
and other officials at the tie up. Picture by Nissanka Wijeratne
The agreement will be an initiative to bring in more foreign exchange in to the country where at present mineral sand is exported in raw form in bulk. The country imports processed sand paying 10 to 15 percent more in value thus making the industry a negative contributor to the economy. Our efforts will reverse this trend, Laugfs Holdings Chairman W.K.H. Wegapitiya said.
“Sri Lankan entrepreneurs and companies should be encouraged to venture into similar businesses leading to value addition. Although, we believe that FDI is key for economic development, it has not made significant impact on the economy. Therefore entrepreneurs with new thinking to take maximum advantage of our natural resources to engage in scientific research are the need of the hour,” he said. The country is rich with key ingredients of natural resources as factors of production, location specific advantages and entrepreneurship which according to Michael Porter are the pre-requisites of economic development.
We are rich with all three factors and also possess knowledge but not have reached the developed nation status. This is a concern and need corrective action. “We are a truly Sri Lankan company and this venture is going beyond commercial consideration to give back to society.
We are creating synergy with the agreement which could lead to new knowledge and confident that the country will benefit in the long run,” Wegapitiya said.
A fully fledged manufacturing plant will be set up shortly to produce different value added chemical from mineral sand.
Sri Lanka is estimated to have 18 million metric tons of ilmenite reserves, the world’s ninth largest deposit.
The country’s North and the East beach sands contained about 70 to 72 percent ilmenite and it is estimated to have 6 to 8 million metric tons of ilmenite according to the surveys of the Geological Survey and Mines Bureau of Sri Lanka.
Pulmoddai ilmenite is known to contain about 50 to 60 percent of titanium dioxide in its composition.
The SLINTEC has developed a proprietary process to produce TiO2 and nano TiO2 starting with ilmenite obtained from Pulmoddai. Signing of this agreement will initiate the commissioning of a pilot plant and then a large scale commercial plant where the project will be completed in three phases.