Programme to develop gold as a High-Tech industrial metal

Harmony Gold Mining and Mintek announced the entry of Harmony into Project AuTEK, a pioneering initiative to pursue research into new industrial uses for gold. Harmony now joins AngloGold, Gold Fields and Mintek as partners in this exciting venture which has generated world-wide interest.

Project AuTEK was first launched in June 2000, and is a focused programme to investigate and develop the use of gold in advanced industrial processes and devices, and in consumer applications. The project has research affiliations with a number of institutions worldwide, including SASOL and the Universities of Cape Town, Witwatersrand and Pretoria in South Africa, as well as ECPM in France and the University of Leiden in The Netherlands.

Mr Ferdi Dippenaar, Marketing Director of Harmony, said this week that "Harmony was serious about adding value to its gold, and was pursuing a number of initiatives in this regard, ranging from innovative jewellery to industrial chemicals. The interaction with Project AuTEK is expected to complement these other activities, and could lead to further downstream developments in due course".

Dr Elma van der Lingen, of Mintek, who is leader of the Project AuTEK programme commented that the added input and resources of Harmony would add tremendous value to the work that is being done. She pointed out that "Gold has many un-exploited properties that are very appropriate for use in currently emerging technologies. For example, gold has been found to be an excellent catalyst for many chemical reactions important for cleaning up pollution. It is also one of the foundation materials used in the important new field of nanotechnology, which offers the promise of more powerful computers and better medicines "

Also announced today was the unveiling of Project AuTEK's first working prototype of a room temperature air purification unit that strips poisonous carbon monoxide gas out of air. The unique feature of this unit is that it performs the operation at room temperature whereas all other known systems to do this require the air to be heated. The new unit uses super-active catalysts based on gold, and is expected to be considerably cheaper to manufacture and operate than potential designs based on other types of catalyst. Its areas of application include restaurants, hospitals, hotels and office blocks.

Contact Dr Elma van der Lingen, Mintek, +27-11-709-4471, email : elmavdl@mintek.co.za for more information